Documentation in Child Custody Cases

Increase your chances of reaching an optimum child custody agreement by collecting and organizing the right evidence.

Tomasz Domański

Alimentor Author

Documentation Scope

Collecting solid documentation concerning custody, your child’s best interests and well‑being is vital in custody disputes. The legal process varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and you have a number of options for establishing child custody agreement. No matter which legal path you choose, the following documentation will help you get the best results:

  • Detailed child custody journal (visitations, calls)
  • Communication records
  • Your child's records
  • Financial records

Child Custody Journal

Keeping a log of your child‑raising efforts will give you the following benefits:

  • Obtaining tangible proof of your bond with your child and your capabilities as a parent.
  • Improved negotiation position.
  • Increased attorney’s efficiency in building and representing a strong case for custody.
  • Better understanding of your new life situation.

Start collecting your evidence as early as possible.

Child Custody Diary App on iPad

Parenting Time

Keep a detailed visitation log showing how much time your child spends with you (or with their other parent).

In Alimentor, you can document each parent's time spent with the children by creating records containing the following fields:
  • Caregiver and children
  • Scheduled start, end and location (if applicable)
  • Actual start, end and location
  • Status: planned, actual or canceled (no show)
  • Notes, photos, scans and PDF attachments
  • Disagreement flag and custody factors
You will be able to utilize this information in court to prove a continuous and meaningful relationship with the child.

Parenting Time Calculator (Custody Percentage)

Alimentor automatically calculates two types of custodial timeshare: based on hours and based on nights. Controlling your custodial percentage timeshare is especially important in jurisdictions where it has a direct impact on the amount of child support you pay or receive.

Parent-Child Calls

Keep a diary of all phone calls made between you and your child during the time when you do not have custody.

Use Alimentor to log date, time and duration of each call, including unanswered calls. If the other parent is not letting you speak with your child, log missed calls. Courts tend to take a dim view of a parent who tries to limit or block their child's relationship with the other parent.

Important Events

Document all events that demonstrate your ongoing commitment as a parent in raising your child, for example:
  • attending parent-teacher meetings,
  • accompanying your child in school activities,
  • taking care of regular medical check‑ups,
  • going on vacation and spending quality time with your child.

If applicable, you should also collect evidence of questionable behavior or judgment of the other parent, such as domestic violence, negligence towards the child, unavailability, frustrating contact, and/or poor parenting skills.


Tracking expenses will help you calculate and understand the real costs of raising your children, including:
  • housing, food and clothing,
  • medical care (including medical insurance),
  • child care,
  • educational fees (including college expenses),
  • extracurricular and social expenses,
  • transportation,
  • holiday trips, vacations.

Record your expenses related to raising your children incurred during the divorce to avoid allegations that you did not financially support your children at that time.

You can use Alimentor as a dedicated expense tracker to log actual amounts paid or received and to document missing or partial payments (reimbursements) and disagreements.

Keep receipts for all payments and purchases made for the benefit of your child in order to be able to prove what was purchased, when and for how much.

Tracking Child Raising Expenses

Communication Records

Keep copies of your communication and correspondence with the other parent if you discuss:
  • custody schedule and changes in upcoming visitations,
  • financial matters,
  • any other important parenting arrangements.

Child’s Records

Consider including in your files any important documents that are not part of your custody diary:
  • your child’s awards, achievements and school records (including report cards),
  • medical, hospital, and dental records, including emergency treatment records,
  • written statements from teachers, coaches, neighbors.

Financial Records

Take the time to evaluate your assets, liabilities, income and expenses. This will give you a clear picture of your financial situation and can help in preparation and presentation of a child custody and support case.

Remember that while each parent’s financial situation can play a role in child custody, the courts will ultimately make a decision based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Documents to collect:
  • Tax returns, pay stubs, 1099, and W-2 forms
  • Bank accounts statements and brokerage accounts statements
  • Credit card statements and all other debts
  • Insurance policies
  • Employment records
  • Deeds, deeds of trust, notes, and mortgages
  • Wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate documents
  • Pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement benefits documents
  • Registrations or certificates of title for owned vehicles

If you are moving out of your spouse's home, consider taking photos of the property and all valuable assets brought into the marriage and those acquired during the marriage.

Best Interests of the Child

The term "best interests of the child" refers to the deliberation that courts undertake when deciding what type of services, actions, and orders will best serve a child as well as who is best suited to take care of a child.

"Best interests" determinations are generally made by considering a number of factors related to the child’s circumstances and the parent or caregiver’s circumstances and capacity to parent.

When collecting documentation, tag your records with best interests factors (aka custody factors). Then you will be able to generate the "Custody Journal" section of the report using the "Best Interests of the Child" layout. Give this document to your attorney to minimize the time needed to prepare a legal brief.

Best interests tags available in Alimentor:

  • Age and Health of the Child: The age and physical and mental condition of the child, giving due consideration to the child's changing developmental needs.
  • Disability and Special Needs: Special needs of the child due to mental illness, behavioral disorders, and other disabilities.
  • Relationship with the Child: The relative willingness and demonstrated ability of the parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the child.
  • Home Environment: The home environment of the parent, considering the promotion of the child's nurturance and safety rather than superficial or material factors.
  • Child Care Arrangements: Child care arrangements provided by the parent.
  • Educational Opportunities: Educational opportunities provided by the parent, taking into consideration the academic or special needs of the child.
  • Cultural Heritage Opportunities: Child's cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage including indigenous upbringing and heritage.
  • Financial Support: The parent's ability to provide financial support for the child, including any history of missed child support payments.
  • Child’s Preferences: Evidence related to the child's preference to live with one of the parents.
  • Health of Each Caregiver: The physical, mental, and emotional health of all individuals involved to the degree that such affects the welfare of the child.
  • Cooperation Between Caregivers: The willingness (or lack thereof) of the parent to cooperate in child custody arrangements and to support the continuity of the child's relationship with the other parent. The ability of the caregiver to resolve disputes over matters concerning the child.
  • Interference with Visitation Rights: Evidence that one parent has significantly violated the other parent's visitation rights.
  • Counter Parenting: Evidence that one parent is intentionally working against the other parent to undermine that parent's way of raising the child.
  • Child Neglect: Evidence of one parent's failure to provide for the child's basic needs related to maintaining the child's life and health. Includes physical, emotional, medical and educational neglect.
  • Child Abandonment: Evidence that one parent abandoned the child.
  • Emotional Abuse: Evidence of emotional child abuse, including critical or threatening comments meant to affect the child's emotional well-being.
  • Physical Abuse: Evidence of physical abuse of the child, including beating or other violent contact.
  • Legal Abuse: Evidence related to disregarding court orders, filing false reports, intentionally causing delays in court proceedings, or otherwise misusing legal proceedings.
  • Financial Abuse: Evidence related to withholding or delaying support payments and court-ordered reimbursements, blocking access to financial resources or interfering with the other parent's work or career development.
  • Sexual Abuse: Evidence of sexual abuse of the child.
  • Coercive Control: Evidence related to a cumulative pattern of behavior aimed at controlling or dominating the other parent.
  • Domestic Abuse By Proxy: Evidence of the use of other individuals and institutions to abuse the other parent psychologically through parental alienation.
  • Domestic Violence: Evidence that one parent has committed domestic violence against the other parent, especially in the presence of the child.
  • Harassment and Stalking: Evidence related to harassment or stalking of the other parent, including sending manipulative, threatening and abusive messages and monitoring of whereabouts, social interactions or social media.
  • Verbal Assault: Evidence that one parent verbally assaulted the other parent.
  • Physical Assault: Evidence that one parent physically assaulted the other parent.
  • Civil/Criminal Proceedings: Civil or criminal proceedings, orders, recognizances, undertakings, measures or other instruments relevant to the safety or well-being of the child.

Preparing for Court or Mediation

Alimentor reports can consist of the following sections:

  • Custody Calendar: Calendar, plus totals (timeshare, hours and nights of care, calls). The "Actual vs. Planned" layout visualizes differences between scheduled and actual parenting time.
  • Custody Summary: Summary tables and concise lists of records grouped by type.
  • Summary of Expenses: Total expenses by title and payer. Negative amounts represent savings/reimbursements.
  • Custody Log: Chronological, detailed custody journal with attachments. The "Best Interests of the Child" layout lists events grouped by custody factors.

Sample Report

Child Custody Report

Follow these tips when preparing documentation needed for court or mediation:

  • Prepare several shorter reports focusing on specific periods, topics and factors, instead of trying to generate one huge report with all the information collected.
  • Tag your records with best interests factors to be able to generate the "Best Interests of the Child" chapter.
  • You can use almost any popular PDF reader on your PC or Mac to add extra annotations to the final version of your report.
  • You can export all Alimentor data records to a spreadsheet file in order to perform some advanced calculations or to create charts.
  • If you had been regularly sending Alimentor reports to the other parent (e.g. using email) in the past, consider using that fact to prove that the other parent was aware of the actual situation.
  • The search functionality located in Diary will help you quickly look up records containing specific notes and titles.

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