Collecting Evidence For An Arizona Custody Case
Our AZ Family Lawyers Take a Closer Look At Collecting Evidence In An AZ Custody Case
When two parents break up, they aren’t always able to reach an agreement on how their child should be raised going forward. That’s when the court needs to be involved to help determine child custody. In Arizona, custody is divided into two parts- legal decision making and parenting time. While the courts prefer to give both parents joint custody, there are factors that can cause the judge to deviate from this presumption. If you’re going to be fighting in court for more time with your child, or the authority to make important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, you will want to have strong evidence to support your arguments.
Every Case Is Unique, But The Following Types Of Evidence Are Common Among All Custody Cases
You probably use text messaging to coordinate with your child’s other parent frequently. Don’t delete your thread with your ex, especially when it contains proof that your ex violated custody orders. It can also be a way to show that your ex is harassing you if you are seeking a protective order. Make sure you don’t have their name saved as anything inappropriate in your phone, as the judge may look down on that. Keep in mind that your ex can use this evidence the same way, so keep your text message communication civil.
Just like text messages, emails provide verbatim proof of what your child’s other parent may have said or done. They are easier to recover if deleted than text messages, but you should still keep pertinent emails saved in an organized folder. And, just like text messages, do your best to be polite, or your ex could use your emails against you.
Sometimes, the rest of your evidence won’t make sense unless you have more context. Schedules can help provide that necessary context. For example, a child may be clumsy and prone to injury. But if all of these injuries just happen to occur at only one parent’s house, there might be a problem. You should provide your attorney with as much of your child’s scheduling information as possible- school, extracurricular activities, pick ups and drop offs, medical appointments, etc.
When someone has witnessed incidents relevant to the custody issues at hand, they may be called to testify at trial. If you and your ex’s versions of events directly conflict, a witness can help the judge decide whose side to believe. Start compiling a list of anyone who has personal or professional knowledge of your custody situation. Common examples include neighbors, family friends, physicians, day care providers, and teachers. Judges especially appreciate testimony from parties who are neutral between the parents. Eyewitness testimony can corroborate your claims about your child’s other parent, and help you prove your case to the judge. Make sure you provide your Maricopa family law attorney with potential witnesses’ contact information with sufficient time to prepare for trial.
Voicemails & Audio Recordings
Inappropriate voicemails from your child’s other parent should always be saved and sent to your attorney. Make sure you include something that shows the number that left the voicemail. And in Arizona, only one party has to consent to record a conversation. You can also audio record volatile interactions with your ex that happen in person.
These may not be admissible in court, but keeping a personal journal or diary can help you remember when and how custody-related events occurred. Your journals don’t just have to be recollections of events. You can write down your concerns or suspicions about your child’s other parent as well. Keeping a journal will provide the added benefit of giving you a neutral and private way to express your emotions about your ex.
If your ex has committed domestic violence, this will be highly relevant to custody proceedings. Certain other criminal convictions can make a parent temporarily or permanently lose custody, as well as incarceration. Police reports are credible forms of evidence in custody proceedings and should be obtained as soon as possible.
If you have received any letters from doctors, teachers, etc., regarding your child, you should hold on to them. Your Mesa family law attorney may also want to call anyone who sent a relevant letter as a witness. Make copies of letters you want to use as evidence, and keep them somewhere safe and secure where your ex can’t access them. You can also scan them into electronic documents and send them to your attorney.
While performance in school isn’t always a clear indicator of conditions at home, the judge will be interested to see how your child’s education is progressing. For example, if one parent is awarded primary physical custody and the child’s grades drop dramatically, the custody arrangement may need to be revisited. You should keep your Gilbert family law attorney updated with all new report cards while you are in an active custody case.
Photographs & Videos
This demonstrative evidence can show not only negative things like injuries and bad living conditions, but positive things like how close you are with your child. Your photos from memorable events like holidays, vacations, and outings like the zoo or waterpark can show the judge that the relationship between you and your child is meaningful. Pictures can also be used to cross reference and prove the validity of the schedules you provide.
Depending on your child’s specific needs, medical records could be highly pertinent to your custody case. They are relevant to both parenting time (physical custody) and legal decision making (legal custody) determinations. Medical records can show your involvement in your child’s life and that you do everything you can to keep them healthy. If one parent tends more to the child’s health and medical care than the other, medical records matched with custody schedules can show this.
Your Child’s Opinion
Once a child reaches a certain level of age and maturity, usually around 12 years old, the judge can begin taking the child’s wishes into account while making custody decisions. However, you should think carefully before having your child tell the judge who should be awarded custody. This can be stressful for your child and permanently damage their relationship with their other parent. The judge may conduct an in camera interview with your child to avoid the need to testify in court. If a guardian ad litem is assigned to your case, they may testify on your child’s behalf. The judge will find all of these testimonies regarding the child’s best interests useful in making a custody determination.
Contact Our Arizona Family Attorneys For Assistance With Your Arizona Family Law Case
When the judge analyzes all of the claims and evidence in your custody case, they will be looking for what is in your child’s best interests. That’s why you will want to clearly demonstrate just how happy and healthy of a life your child has with you. When used properly, the right evidence will help you get the judge to see things from your perspective. And the right family law attorney can help you tie all of that evidence together, negotiate with the other parent’s attorney, and find the best custody solutions for your family. Our AZ Family Law Lawyers have years of knowledge and experience that they offer at affordable rates with payment plan options. To learn more, call us or use our online form to schedule your free consultation today.