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Gather Evidence for Child Custody and Contact

 How will I know what to record to gather evidence relating to child custody and contact?

The best thing to do before you start to gather evidence for child custody and contact is to spend some time online finding out about how social services and the family court make decisions about child custody and contact, now known as ‘child arrangements’, and what evidence you may need to support your case. There’s a huge amount of valuable and reputable material online as well as on this website. If you don’t live in the UK family lawyers sometimes have advice online so take a look at the websites of the family lawyers in your area. 

For those of you in England and Wales our website is crammed with information. We also point you towards other websites we rate highly. You’ll soon get a sense of what you need to do. 

See the links below for helpful guidance about child custody and contact, making records and what kind of things you need to record. We also have video guidance to help you understand the ONRECORD app as well. 

Custody and contact, child arrangements – https://www.myonrecord.com/how-onrecord-helps-you/child-custody/

How to make good records:

https://www.myonrecord.com/how-to-make-good-records/

Record keeping examples of child contact cases: 

A father’s record:. 

https://www.myonrecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/NewChild-Contact-Case-Study.pdf

A mother’s record:

https://www.myonrecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/01/NewChild-Contact-Case-Study-2.pdf

You will also find a wealth of information and help on the Advicenow website: 

https://www.advicenow.org.uk/child-arrangements

https://www.advicenow.org.uk/divorce-and-separation

and Citizens Advice website: 

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/making-agreements-about-your-children/making-child-arrangements/

Why should I gather the evidence relating to child custody and contact and not leave it to my lawyer?

When you’re having to make an application to the family court or you’re responding to an application made by the other parent the first thing you always have to do is explain what the background is, what’s happened to cause the breakdown of any arrangements you’ve already made, what that’s led to the current situation and what you want to achieve in terms of the kind of arrangements you’d like in place for the children. Obviously the other parent will be setting out their views on those same issues. You should keep the records because you know what’s happened and it’s you who will live through all that happens, not your lawyer. Talking to a lawyer at length is pricey so giving them something you’ve prepared setting out the history in advance will save you time and money. If the problems are ongoing you should continue making the records. They’ll ask questions to fill in the gaps but that won’t take nearly as much time or cost nearly as much. If you use ONRECORD your lawyer can keep up to date by logging in to catch up at any time and you won’t have to keep phoning or emailing them with updates.  

If you don’t use ONRECORD and therefore have to wait for an appointment to see your lawyer, it’s going to be a long frustrating first meeting. You probably won’t be able to remember all that’s happened, especially if things have been going badly for a long time. It can be hard to remember exactly when and how things happened, like contact not happening when it’s been agreed or going badly, issues of unreliability or how a problem such as an addiction or mental illness affected things. You may have difficulty remembering the details of a highly charged dispute about where the child or children should live and how much time they should spend with the other parent, or when a child, returning from contact, said they don’t want to see with the other parent “ever again”. What memory you have of these kinds of different events will fade as time passes and you might confuse events. You’ll find it really difficult to remember everything, when it happened and in what order and you may have little or no supporting evidence, such as emails or texts, you can still produce. You’ll be at a serious disadvantage because you can’t tell the story well enough or sound like a reliable witness. Unless you’ve kept good records you’ll be ill prepared for the appointment with your lawyer and for what follows. 

Coping with false allegations

Finally and importantly there are cases relating to children where false allegations have been or will be made to get the court to decide in the accuser’s favour. These are some of the most difficult cases for the family court. Who will the judge believe and will they see the truth? These cases require the most careful attention. After all only the two parents know for certain who is lying and the professionals and court have to try to work out who it is. Making records in these cases is essential. These are the circumstances where you need to be the most diligent and to keep going with the records come what may. They could save you from the most appalling consequences like the social services and police being involved and taking action, you not being able to see the children or only in a supervised setting, the loss of your job and reputation. And remember, that’s the intention of the other parent.  

ONRECORD can help you with these cases. Using the app’s GPS facility you can prove where as well as when the records were uploaded. It’s displayed in the metadata in the chronology. So if it’s alleged you weren’t where you should be to collect the children or return the children and you make a good record to show that you are at the right place at the right time, you will be able to prove that the other parent is lying. Proving a lie might be just be enough to win your case for you. 

If you are late for contact for a genuine reason, you can do the same. Send a text to the other parent apologising for being late and saying why. Screenshot it as your evidence. Ideally take a picture/s or a short video which shows exactly where you are, for example by standing next to a road sign or named building or in a queue of traffic held up and make sure it’s uploaded as part of the actual record. The app links the supporting evidence (photos, videos, documents etc) with the record to show they are directly related so that there can be no confusion about what evidence goes with what record. You can also prove that a photo, taken via the app, has not been tampered with or modified in any way (as photos can be when taken via your phone) if that’s alleged. 

What’s the best way to gather evidence relating to child custody and contact?

When you gather evidence relating to child custody or contact you should make a record every time something significant happens and also make retrospective records to cover those things that you can recall and still prove because youl have text messages, social media posts etc. 

ONRECORD is by far the best way to keep these kinds of detailed records. With ONRECORD, as well as keeping the actual records with supporting evidence, you keep a calendar and timeline to show easily when and what happened. You can also rate how much each event worried or upset you or the children so the most serious events can be identified quickly. 

All your records, which get sorted by ONRECORD into date/time order can be shared securely with someone you choose and who you can then message in-app for support/advice. You can share with a professional and/or a family member or friend depending on who you trust.  

You may start to see a pattern developing that will help you and your advisers/supporters understand your case. You’ll certainly be able to see the frequency of the problems you’re encountering and their seriousness. Seeing something displayed on a calendar or a timeline starts to help you put things quickly in perspective. 

You’ll be pleased you kept records, as you’ll have something you can show an advisor to get help more quickly and easily. When you need to, either you or your professional adviser can download the records in the form of a chronology to be used to prepare statements for court.

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