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Personal records can help during custody cases

When Illinois parents divorce, issues regarding the custody and support of any minor children are often a major concern. The stress of the process can, however, make it difficult for parents to effectively negotiate these matters.

One thing that they can do is top access records that document day-to-day child-related activities, events and expenses. Old calendars and datebooks, for example, can help a parent provide accurate data on a child's lifestyle and the cost of caring for that child.

For example, a parent may have a decent understanding of the current household budget, but may not realize how much money is being spent on supporting a child's activities, such as sports or music lessons. Even things like gas mileage to and from practices, games and performances should be taken into consideration. A calendar or schedule can help a parent make these calculations.

While it may seem that a parent should be able to provide these details from memory, many parents feel overwhelmed when in meetings with a lawyer. As a result, they may not be able to think clearly or to accurately depict the financial and time commitments that they have made to their children. Calendars and other documentation can help the parent avoid making costly mistakes.

The primary factor that courts will consider when making a determination on child custody and visitation is what is in the best interests of the child. Most judges believe that having liberal access to both parents is key to a child's development. Family law attorneys will point out, however, that this may not be the case when there is a history of addiction or domestic abuse on the part of one of the parents.

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