Child custody laws in the United States are complicated, and the average separating parent can expect to spend several months (and hundreds of dollars) determining how best to share custody of a child. Eventually, both parents will need to attend a hearing to receive a decision from the judge hearing the case or have the agreement they have created on their own approved in family court. After a long and costly battle, the last thing you want is to have the case further delayed by an issue that occurs during the hearing. Preparing for a child custody hearing in advance gives you an opportunity to discover and resolve any existing problems before they can negatively impact your case.
Ask Your Attorney About Courtroom Procedures
Most people have little experience attending court, and it is important to understand that what you have seen portrayed in movies or read in books is not always realistic. At the hearing, giving long explanations to the judge regarding your position on custody, verbally attacking the other party, or otherwise disrupting court procedures could seriously damage your case. Talk to your attorney before your hearing about courtroom etiquette and make sure you know what is or is not acceptable.
In addition to adhering to courtroom procedures, also focus on being courteous and professional at all times. During your court hearing, you are making an impression on the judge, so appearances are extremely important. Arriving to court on-time, bringing required documentation, and behaving like a competent person all demonstrate to the judge why you deserve custody of your child. Remember, your judge has the final say in your custody hearing so you do not want to give the judge the impression that you are unorganized or do not take the situation seriously.
Get Accustomed to Agreeing with Requests
Arguing during a child custody case is normal since often both parents have their own ideas regarding what is best for their mutual child. Once the discussion has shifted to a courtroom setting both parties need to focus on cooperating or at least agreeing with requests presented by a neutral third party. Either your judge or mediator (if one is involved) may make suggestions to pave the way towards compromise. Saying no out of habit or stubbornness may give you the appearance of being difficult and uncooperative. When the custody of children is involved, you may be asked to attend anger management classes, parenting classes, or complete other tasks that ultimately show the court how hard you are ready to work to establish or keep custody of your children.
Reach Out to a Lawyer
If you have handled filing for custody on your own and now have a court date scheduled, it is a good idea to reach out to a child custody and visitation attorney prior to your hearing. An attorney can review your case with you and even help you prepare for your hearing through roleplaying or other methods. The team at Vayman & Teitelbaum knows that every situation is different and we are ready to discuss your case and give you advice that is specifically designed to help you at your custody hearing. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation at one of our Atlanta, Georgia locations so that we can begin giving you the legal advice that you need.