When two individuals who share children cannot agree on the time a child spends with each parent or parenting strategies, it may be time to appear in court for a child custody hearing. This article will share what you need to know to prepare for this form of hearing.
1. Filling Out Forms
If you ask the court to hear you regarding your child, you will be the one to file a petition. If the child’s other parent is the one to file, you will be able to answer the petition. Parents who wind up needing to file an answer to the other party’s petition generally have a limited time frame in which they are allowed to do so. This time frame is usually 30 days, although it may differ depending on your area. If you miss the deadline to answer the other party, you may miss the opportunity to give your side and respond to the child’s other parent’s proposal.
In many cases, child support is also discussed during a child custody hearing. If this applies to your situation, you may need to complete a financial declaration via a form stating your income and list of expenses. In most areas, this form is available at the county clerk’s office.
Once everything has been put together and filed (if you are the one filing the petition), it is necessary to ensure that the other parent is given copies of the papers you have filed. An individual over the age of 18 must be the one to provide these copies to them, although you cannot be the one to do this.
2. Consider Hiring an Attorney
It is a good idea to consider hiring a legal representative from top priority. As a general rule, if you can afford an attorney, it is recommended that you enlist one’s services. If you cannot afford one, you are not left without options. Many law offices offer legal aid to those with limited income.any time you find yourself going to court. This is especially true in the case of a complex child custody hearing so that the child’s best interests (ren) are the
3. Complete Research Regarding Child Custody Law in Your State
It is a good idea to brush up on child custody laws in your state. This is so you can have a good idea of constructing your case for your child’s good (ren). Knowing what the judge is likely to rule upon will help you understand what you should offer as evidence to support your side of the case.
4. Put Together a Plan for Parenting
Before you are required to attend the child custody hearing, you will want to create a detailed parenting plan. You will want to devise one goal for sharing time with the other parent but a few different options to work for everyone. You may also want to write down your schedule and your child’s so that you can see patterns in your parenting and find a way for your child to get the most out of any plan that both parents agreed upon. Remember, the child’s best interests should be the priority.
5. Gather Your Witnesses
It’s never a bad idea to gather a list of witnesses who have personally seen your interactions with your child(ren). Witnesses who can testify to your actions as a parent and the child’s care and well-being can be a huge asset when preparing for a child custody case.
If your witnesses are nervous about the prospect of testifying in court, there is nothing wrong with completing some preparation with them. You can prepare your witnesses to have you or your attorney mock questions with them so as not to be so nervous once it is time to testify.
Are you unsure of whom to ask when gathering your list of witnesses? You will want to look into those who have spent time with your children and have seen your interactions with them. These can be coaches or teachers who have worked with your child, counselors, or even social workers agreeable to testifying. If you are unsure that your witnesses will show up for the hearing, you can have the court issue a subpoena, which can provide an adequate excuse for your witnesses to miss a day at work.
6. Be Organized
One of the best ways to prepare for your child custody hearing is to ensure your evidence and all documentation are sufficiently organized. As a rule of thumb, have three copies of your documentation – one for you, one for the other parent, and one copy for the judge. Be sure that any evidence you have to support your case is with you and admissible.
You may also want to use notes you can refer to so that you not only stay on track but mention everything you need to support your case. A good way to organize your notes is to write them down on index cards.
In conclusion, regarding a child custody hearing, you want to ensure that you are prepared for court and have everything you need to support your side. This will enable you to keep the time spent in court as short as possible so that your child can spend time with the two individuals they productively love most and focus on growing up as healthy and well-balanced as possible.