Separating from a spouse can be the most challenging event in someone’s life, both emotionally and financially. If the spouses have children together, then they will need to either create a schedule for custody and visitation themselves or have it established by the court. If the parents are unable to reach an agreement on child custody, then chances are they will be required to attend a hearing to discuss the matter in front of the judge instead. While working with an attorney, he or she may suggest the following approaches to get as ready as possible for your hearing:
Get Familiar With Laws For Your State
Your attorney can help you with this, as he or she will have information regarding child custody specifically for the state you live in. This should be your first step, so you understand how these laws could impact your child custody case. While this can be a frustrating and complicated step, it is imperative to be aware of what you could be up against before going to the hearing.
Focus On Showing Your Qualities As a Parent
When a divorcing spouse is preparing for a hearing, their attorney can help them showcase why they are the best parent to take care of the children. The judge must be convinced that one or both parents are suitable to raise the children. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the parents may be fighting for sole or joint custody. To be awarded sole custody, one parent has to show without a doubt that they are the “better parent”.
Additionally, many judges are hesitant to cast one parent out of the child’s life unless there is legitimate reason to do so, such as abuse, alcoholism, addiction, or neglect. Parents who are fighting for sole custody must be ready to explain to the judge how they are able to support the child’s well being without assistance from the other parent.
Take Financial Documents To Court
By working with an attorney you can find out what documents are most crucial to bring to your child custody hearing. You may want to have any divorce-related paperwork on hand as well, in case the judge inquires about the divorce process thus far. Documents that can be useful to bring along include financial statements, written testimonies from loved ones, a phone log showing how often you or the other parent contacts the child, proof of child support payments, and a proposed visitation schedule.
Practice Courtroom Responses
Your attorney can walk you through what the hearing will be like, so you don’t feel overwhelmed and confused the day of. Your attorney can ask you questions as if they were the judge, so you can practice what your responses would be. Your attorney can give you a list of courtroom etiquette, such as statements to avoid and how to keep your emotions in check. Remember that presentation is very important as well, so you will want to dress professionally and cleanly.