Written by attorney Shauntese Curry Trye

How to Prepare for Your Contested Child Custody Case

Journaling: It is important to keep a chronology of events that happen in the time leading up to trial. Do not advertise that you maintain a journal. Simply put in the date and a brief, non-emotional summary of what happened that day. Things to keep notes on are:

·comments the children have made about neglectful, inappropriate, alienating or abusive parenting by the ex

·similar comments by others

·school issues

·extra-curricular activities

·medical, dental, therapy, orthodontics, etc.

·appointments, conversations, etc.

·early/late pick-up times

·incidents of domestic violence/abusive behaviors by ex

·observations - missing personal effects, bruises, scratches, children's demeanor, dirty/damaged clothing, etc.

·telephone calls -- etc.

Taping: Under Maryland’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Act, it is unlawful to tape record a conversation without the permission of all the parties. See Bodoy v. North Arundel Hosp., 945 F.Supp. 890 (D. Md. 1996). Additionally, recording with criminal or tortuous purpose is illegal, regardless of consent. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 10-402. Disclosing the contents of intercepted communications with reason to know they were obtained unlawfully is a crime as well.

Photographs & Other Evidence: You can use photographs, police reports, etc. as supporting exhibits for your journaling.

Miscellaneous: Always try to have witnesses other than family members for exchanges if possible. If not possible, then family will have to do. You need someone else to back up your view of the incident. It is generally best for someone other than you to report to CPS (Child Protective Services) about abuse and neglect issues. CPS is often dismissive when one spouse calls in abuse against the other during divorce/custody proceedings. Also, get in the habit of throwing receipts and invoices regarding support in an envelope for each month.

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