Parents in New York who must go to a child custody hearing may wonder what documentation they should bring. In general, it is better to err on the side of having more documents than you may need. You should also bring extra copies of all of them in case any are misplaced. Documentation is initially submitted to the court before the hearing itself.

Records to keep

You should keep records of both visitation and phone calls between the child and both parents. These records should include such information as the duration of the visit or call and how it was conducted. They can show the nature of a parent’s relationship with the child. However, a parent who intends to use them to show infrequent contact should be aware that the other parent might claim that they were prevented from contacting the child.

Other documentation

Other documentation you might want to include are report cards that may show how the child does under the care of each parent, any medical records if the child is often injured with the other parent and written testimony from people who can vouch for your relationship with the child. This might include teachers and neighbors. Judges sometimes order a custody evaluation, but parents can ask for one as well.

Divorce does not necessarily mean going to court. In many situations, parents are able to reach an agreement about child support and custody through negotiation. This could involve both parents sharing physical custody or one having custody while the other gets visitation time. One advantage of negotiation is that it gives parents the opportunity to work out a schedule that is best for their family. Over the years, they may want to make changes to the schedule as the child gets older and their needs change.