The court will most likely issue a temporary order outlining a basic parenting schedule while your case is still ongoing. In cases where the parents can reach an agreement, a court will simply order “visitation at times as agreed,” giving you the freedom to establish a schedule that meets both parents’ needs. In any case, it’s critical that you keep detailed records of when the kids are with you and the other parent. Keep track of all parenting time on your calendar so that you can provide a precise report to your attorney and/or to the judge.
I typically recommend my clients keep a schedule of changes or issues that occur during the pendency of their court case. This makes it a lot easier to plan an argument or defense that supports my client’s position. For example, if the other spouse is arguing for more time with the kids, it’s recommended to mark off on your calendar the dates the other parent missed a date, was late for pickup, did not take the kids to school on time, and/or did not complete homework while under the care of that parent.
It can be helpful to keep a calendar or document on your phone where you can quickly record times when the event happens. On your phone, you can keep a calendar or document where you can easily note when events occur so that you won’t have to try and remember them later.
Parents can create a separate visitation calendar for each parent showing their time in a different color, making it easier to visualize. This kind of schedule can help you see where the children will be at a glance and is understandable to young children.
Parenting Time Issues to Record
Here are some events we recommend you record in preparation for your case:
1. Late Pick-ups or Drop-Offs
Pick-up and drop-off times should be noted. If your spouse is late transporting your child or picking them up for your visit, keep track of the time. Five minutes might be okay, but a half-hour with no warning isn’t, especially if it happens frequently. Although it may seem fussy to record actual pick-up times, smaller incidents can develop into recurring problems. Keeping track of these recurring problems will provide you with an accurate record.
2. Missed Visits
It’s perfectly normal to forget things occasionally or to have situations arise that require us to cancel plans; but if these occur frequently, you’d like to keep a record. If the other parent can’t stick to a routine, you may have a valid argument to request the Court to limit the amount of time the other parent spends with the children. On the other hand, if a parent does not spend time with the child, you cannot force them to use the visitation time. The absence of visits can be powerful evidence refuting the other parent’s request for custody.
Make sure any issues with the other parent are recorded and discussed with your attorney, especially if you have visitation time and the other parent keeps canceling, forgetting, or refusing your visits. Changes in custody may be based on interference with visitation. The end goal is to provide your kids with a consistent schedule that works for everyone and is in their best interest.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
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