If you are involved in a heated child custody dispute, going to a court hearing is inevitable. Stepping foot inside of a courtroom can be a frightening, confusing, and stressful, especially since many parents are unfamiliar with the family law process.
Child Custody Hearing Tips
Through thorough preparation for a custody hearing, you have an opportunity to build a strong case and ultimately obtain the outcome you desire. It is important to understand that the court considers the best interests of the children as their top priority, so ensure you demonstrate to the judge that you are loving and responsible parent.
How to Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing
- Hire an experienced family law attorney – Your lawyer can help you better understand the process and what you’re up against by evaluating your case, presenting all available legal options, and developing an effective legal strategy to get the best possible outcome.
- Familiarize yourself with the state laws – While having legal representation can provide immense help, doing your own research can also be significantly beneficial. Although reading legalese may be a daunting task, you need to know what you’re up against prior to your court appearance.
- Be a good parent – While this may sound obvious, you must position yourself as an engaged and responsible parent. You are required to prove to the judge that you are a better caregiver than the other. Putting your emotions of the custody dispute aside to spend as much time with your kids and being the best parent you can be will speak volumes in the courtroom.
- Bring proper documentation – You don’t want to show up to court empty-handed. Prior to the custody hearing, you and your lawyer should collect all the documents necessary for your case. Important types of documents include bank statements and financial documentation, a parenting schedule, proof of child support payments, your children’s medical records, and other documents relevant to your case.
- Learn about proper court etiquette – The courtroom can be an emotionally-overwhelming venue. If the other party and their attorney are saying negative things about you to a judge, your emotions may get the best of you. However, misbehaving or otherwise acting inappropriately in court can be detrimental, which could lead to losing custody. Your attorney can teach you the proper courtroom etiquette and what to expect during the hearing, as well as help you avoid any negative emotional outbursts.
- Wear proper courtroom attire – First impressions are always important, whether you are in a job interview or meeting your significant other’s parents. The courtroom is no different. You only get one opportunity to make a positive, influential first impression. Wear clothes that are formal and conservative in nature.