If you’re in the middle of a child custody battle, you’re bound to have a lot of anxiety about your upcoming hearing before the family court judge.
Here are some tips that can help you get through the encounter with ease:
1. Remember that this is about the well-being of your child. That means the judge isn’t interested in anything that doesn’t directly affect your child’s welfare. Your ex may, in fact, be a terrible person — but if he or she is a good provider and a capable parent, his or her other shortcomings don’t matter. Don’t bring up any ancient history or anything that doesn’t directly pertain to your child’s welfare. You’ll only appear vindictive and risk irritating the judge.
2. Don’t exaggerate or lie. You’ll be asked to fill out a lot of paperwork for the judge to review and may be asked more questions once you’re in court. Be brief in your responses and stick to the facts. Don’t make allegations you can’t prove — otherwise, you may find yourself put on the spot when the judge demands evidence.
3. Have your argument organized and ready. You want to present the judge with specific examples that explain why you are the more capable parent and why your ex shouldn’t be given equal custody. For example, if your ex travels a lot for work, your child could spend a lot of time in the care of a nanny. Or, perhaps your child has special medical needs but your ex hasn’t undergone the doctor-recommended training that he or she should have had.
4. Don’t forget the small things, like dressing appropriately and addressing the court properly. Wear business-style clothing and be on time. If you’re working with a family law attorney, consider asking him or her to help you rehearse any questions the judge is anticipated to ask so you’ll feel more prepared.
It’s becoming more common for courts to award parents shared custody, rather than choose one parent over the other. However, if you have a good reason for requesting sole custody, the task isn’t impossible. You just need to be prepared to present your case clearly, with specific examples, in order to convince the judge of the need.
Source: The Spruce, “How to Prepare for a Child Support Hearing,” Jennifer Wolf, accessed Feb. 09, 2018