Getting divorced is a stressful situation to begin with and when you have children it can be that much more scary, upsetting, and worrisome. When you and your former spouse are unable to come to your own agreement, you both will need to attend a child custody hearing to have a judge decide what is in the best interest of your child.
Despite the emotions you may have at the moment, it can be extremely helpful to plan ahead and be prepared for your hearing to present a convincing case and increase your chances of having a custody arrangement that falls within your goals.
Below we can take a look at ways to build a persuasive child custody case.
Familiarize Yourself with the Law
Learning how the hearing process works can make you feel more confident before attending court. There are laws that come with custody and parental responsibilities, and unless the court says otherwise, you will share the parental responsibility with the other parent.
Your family law attorney can describe what usually happens in these hearings, and give you an idea of what to expect the day of. There are different types of child custody, and exploring your options of legal custody and visitations can be beneficial for both you and your child.
Your lawyer will tell you exactly what type of documentation you might need for your hearing. Common documents that can be helpful for your case are:
- Call logs and text messages confirming that you and your child are in constant contact and able to get a hold of one another
- Photographs of you and your children together
- A visitation log that plans out when you will see your children, how much time you spend with them, how often you will speak to your children during visitations. A log can also help keep track of either parent’s cancellations, or when they have missed time with their children.
- Medical records for your children, especially if they have any diagnosed health conditions that proves they need access to regular treatment
- Proof of regular child support payments
- School documents like attendance, additional tutoring, and grade reports
- Any supporting evidence you are comfortable with the other parent’s possession and time with your children
The goal with providing proper documentation is to ensure that you are always putting the best interest of your children first. Judges will look for clear proof that you will support, provide, love, and protect your children. It is also important to demonstrate that you and your former spouse will be supportive of your children having a healthy relationship with the other.
Courtroom Etiquette and Appearance
Even if you are in a heightened emotional state, it is important to have proper courtroom etiquette. Having emotional outbursts, making accusatory statements, or raising your voice can be counted against you and potentially hurt your case. Remember that this is about your child, and you want to stay focused on your goals.
It’s understandable to have things get under your skin, and running through some roleplay scenarios with your lawyer can help you stay cool and collected in the courtroom the day of your hearing.
While it is unfair that judgments can be made on appearances alone, it is important to dress appropriately to make the best first impression to the court. This does not mean having to wear the most expensive attire, but it simply should present you as a responsible adult and not call unwanted attention to yourself.
Manage Your Expectations
Your attorney will be able to educate you on the potential risks and rewards of going to court, and they will be advocating for you and help you make the most out of your time during your hearing. Typically, child custody hearings are less combative than other court cases, and are not heard before a jury. Your case will be presented in front of a judge, and they will be able to make an immediate decision. You do have the right to appeal the order if you disagree with the custody arrangement.
Seeking Help for Your Child Custody Case
It can feel overwhelming to go through this process when you care about your children and just want the best for them in the future. At Azemika Law, we’re here for you during this emotional time with our practice that has been devoted to family law for 28 years.
We handle all types of cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the best opportunity to achieve your goals and build a happy future with your family.
For representation, support, and guidance during your child custody hearing, contact us today to speak with one of our family law attorneys in Bakersfield.