What can I show the family court judge that custody or visitation with me is in the “best interest of the child”?

When making a case plan to present to the judge in family court to increase your custody or visitation rights, here are some suggestions of ways you can show the judge that custody or visitation are in the “best interest of the child” (note: learn more about the “best interest of the child” legal standard on PG. 735):

    Write down ALL of your efforts to see your child or grandchild and keep the document in a safe place in case you go to court. By recording the date and times you called can help show to the court that you have taken the process of connecting with your child/grandchild seriously. This may help you if the child’s caregiver has been difficult in allowing you to visit.
    Stay in contact with your child/grandchild. Whether you are incarcerated or not, try to stay a parental figure as much as you can by remembering dates important to your child and asking your child’s caregiver or others about the child.
    Start slowly with visits. If you and the other parent (or caregiver) feel better about your reconnecting with your child slowly, you might start with short visits in the other parent’s (or caregiver’s) home. Then over time, if you build a record of positive visits, you can discuss making your visits longer and more frequent.
    You can make other requests of the other parent (or caregiver), in addition to visits. You can ask to call and write to your child, to receive photos and report cards, to stay updated on school progress and health issues, and to be asked about important decisions.
    Keep written records of everything. Put any agreements in writing, and always keep an extra copy safe. As your visits continue, keep written records of how things are going.

NOTE: Child Protective Services (CPS) creates a case plan when it gets involved in a case regarding a child. The case plan sets out the steps you must take to get your child back. For example, a case plan could require you to attend parenting or counseling classes, participate in substance abuse treatment, and/or visit with your child.