If you are thinking about divorcing your spouse, you are not alone. In fact, divorce filings tend to spike in the first few weeks of the year. While ending any marriage has its challenges, couples with children often face additional obstacles. That is, not only must you distribute marital wealth, but you also must address both legal custody and physical placement. 

In New York, family law judges consider the best interests of the child when settling custody matters. If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse cannot reach an acceptable agreement, you likely want to have a comprehensive record of important facts. Therefore, you may want to consider keeping a child custody journal. Here are three tips for doing so: 

1. Be fair    

Remaining fair during divorce proceedings can be tough. After all, you may have some strong emotions about both your spouse and your current situation. Nonetheless, you want your kids to be happy, healthy and successful in their post-divorce lives. Therefore, try to be as fair as possible when drafting your custody journal. Rather than exclusively focusing on the bad aspects of your partner’s parenting, also outline what he or she does well. This approach is likely to give your custody journal much more credibility. 

2. Be relevant 

You do not want to fill your custody journal with irrelevant information, such as how you feel about your divorce. On the contrary, your journal should have pertinent details about the parent-child relationship that you and your spouse have. Documenting conversations, parenting time, extracurricular activities, signs of neglect and other relevant matters is a good idea. 

3. Be consistent 

Finally, your child custody journal should be as consistent and complete as possible. If your journal has large gaps, a judge may question its usefulness. Accordingly, try to make writing in your journal a habit. Recording notes on a pad or on your smartphone may be helpful. Then, add them to your journal when you have time. 

You want your children to continue to be successful after your divorce. If you are expecting to fight a custody battle, keeping a child custody journal is likely a good way both to assert your legal rights and to ensure your kids have what they need to thrive.