Child Custody Hearing: How to Prepare
You love your children and you care deeply about making sure that their lives are happy and healthy. You want to be with them as much as you can and, when you are not, you want to make sure that they are in a stable and safe situation. These desires are basic and are a fundamental part of being a parent. When you separate from your partner, however, you may be forced to reckon with splitting custody of your children.
This can be a scary prospect, particularly if you do not have a good relationship with your ex-partner and are concerned about whether he or she will provide a good environment for your children, or whether he or she will fairly comply with your custody agreement. All of these concerns and emotions come to a head in child custody hearings.
Typically part of a divorce hearing, child custody hearings can come at any time a parent wishes to modify or establish his or her custodial rights. If you will be attending a child custody hearing, it is important to be prepared. Here are a few things you can do to prepare for your hearing:
- Hire an experienced family law attorney, well in advance of your hearing and tell them everything you can about your family dynamic, your role in the family, including any potentially negative facts, and what you would like to see happen at the hearing.
- Keep a calendar of your daily life with your children. Write down when you are caring for them and what kind of responsibilities you have. Examples may include when you take your children to soccer practice, when you pick them up from school when you are in charge of preparing dinner, and when you pack their lunches and drop them off at school.
- Consider your living situation. Is it appropriate for children? Will a court see it that way? Do you have friends or family who stay with you or are otherwise in your life that the court may see as a negative influence? Take the time well before your hearing to clean up your life both literally and figuratively.
- Keep a low profile. This means that you should show up for work, avoid speeding tickets, and certainly avoid any other activity that may get you into legal trouble. Be on your best behavior.
- Stay away from social media. Posting about your children, even if in a positive way, can invite criticism from the court. Do not post about your ex-partner. Do not post about any new romance. Even if your accounts are private, your online activity can be subpoenaed and you may be required to bring it to court. Be on the safe side, and limit social media activity altogether.
These are just a few of the things you can do to make sure that you put your best foot forward at the custody hearing. There is no way to overstate the importance of a child custody hearing to your life and the life of your children. Make sure you do your homework and come prepared.