If you have met with a family law attorney, have minor children and will likely need Court orders to determine custody and a parenting schedule, then please be prepared to provide the following information. This information will be used to help the Court understand why the custody and parenting schedule you are requesting is in the best interests of your minor children. Although you should always run this past your family law attorney, it may be immensely helpful if you copied and pasted the information below into the computer format of your choice (Word, e-mail…etc.), completed the information and then sent it to your family law attorney to be incorporated into documents for the Court.
- What is the age of your children?
- If your children are doing well, they have an interest in stability and continuity in their custodial arrangement. Please describe the current custodial arrangement. For example, who takes your children to school, or stays with them during the day if they are young? Who picks your children up from school or takes care of them in the afternoon? What is their evening routine and who is responsible for this routine? Who takes care of your children on the weekends? How are the holidays spent? How are the summers spent?
- Please describe the relationship your children have with both parents.
- Please describe the relationship your children have with other family members.
- Please describe the relationship between you and the other parent including, but not limited to, your ability to communicate and cooperate effectively and your willingness to put the interests of the children above your individual interests. For example, if you and the other parent are no longer living together is the other parent allowing you to have overnights? Are you or the other parent sending an excessive amount of text messages or e-mails? Has the other parent cut off communication?
- Have your children expressed their wishes regarding a parenting schedule if they are mature enough for such an inquiry to be appropriate. *Please note that talking with your children about a parenting schedule is a very sensitive area and should not be commenced without you first receiving legal advice on how to approach such an inquiry, if at all.
- Anything else you would like the Court to know about your children? About you? About the other parent?
This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list, but it is a substantial start. I would like for all my family law clients, where custody and a parenting schedule are at issue, to complete this list and send it to me as soon as possible. More information is better than less information and stream of consciousness is perfectly acceptable. Do not worry about editing your responses to the questions set forth above as this will be done for you by your attorney in the format needed to provide the information to the Court.
If this list overwhelms you and you do not know where to start, then make an appointment with your family law attorney and he or she should be able to swiftly guide you through it. However, if you are trying to keep costs down in your case then do the best you can to complete this on your own. Again, remember, this is just a stream of consciousness exercise that does not need to be perfect.
In addition to meeting with your family law attorney and discussing responses to the questions set forth above, it may be appropriate in your case to keep a calendar of when you have parenting time with your children. There is a certain way in which these calendars must be kept and maintained, otherwise, they are not admissible into evidence and all your hard work may go to waste. It may not be advisable for you to keep a calendar given the facts and circumstances of your case, so please be certain to secure legal advice first.
This material is provided for educational purposes only. Providing this information does not establish an attorney/client relationship. None of the information contained in this blog should be acted upon without first consulting with an attorney. Should you have questions about the content of this blog, please arrange to discuss via a consultation.