How Do I Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing?

If you are fighting for child custody, this may be one of the most important fights of your life. Whether it comes about as a result of divorce or a paternity action, knowing how to prepare for your day in court – and arguably, your child’s day in court – is essential.

It’s not unusual for parents to feel powerless in these situations. They may feel like the outcome is solely in the hands of their attorneys or the judge, but this isn’t necessarily true. Parents can affect the outcome in more ways than they might think is possible by doing just a few important things.

Let’s get into some of those now.

Keep a Safe, Clean & Wholesome Home

The court will decide child custody based upon a number of factors, but the bottom line is always what the judge believes is in your child’s best interests. For this reason, parents should make sure that their children are living in safe, clean, and whole environments – but what does that really mean?

Consider the following tips:

  • Maintain a safe home. This means ensuring that your home is habitable and safe for your children to occupy. A safe home is one where toxic chemicals, prescription medications, sharp objects, weapons, and other hazardous items are locked away or kept far out of reach. It’s also a home where pets are fully trained and can be trusted to coexist with children without causing harm.
  • Keep a clean home. Anyone with kids knows that messiness is a part of life, but there’s a limit. Homes should always be kept in a sanitary condition, which means dirty dishes don’t pile up, the trash isn’t taken out, and plumbing issues are addressed as soon as possible. A clean home also reduces the risk of a child getting hurt by stepping on or falling over an object.
  • Assess your friends and family. We would all like to believe that our children are safe around our friends and family, but this isn’t the case in every situation. If you are aware of someone who may be a danger to your child, it’s your responsibility to limit or prevent contact. You may even want to reconsider your relationship with this individual, as it can be used against you even if your child has never met a potentially problematic individual.

Demonstrate Responsibility & Commitment

The court wants to award custody to parents who can show that they are responsible and committed to the wellbeing of their children. This means that you should spend as much time with your children as possible, be dependable when it comes to providing for needs and routines, and stay as flexible as possible to accommodate your schedule to theirs.

Whether you’ve been doing these things all along or not, now’s a good time to keep detailed notes that you can submit to the court for consideration. If you haven’t been doing these things, or at least not to the degree that might impress a judge, you can’t change the past but you can start now.

Be a Good Person to Your Child & Others

As a parent, your child will learn behavior from you. This means that if you can demonstrate what being a good person is, the court is inclined to take this into account. The judge may come to not just see you as someone who can raise their child, but someone who should raise their child, which can affect the outcome of your custody dispute.

You can showcase your good character in the following ways:

  • Showing respect for the court and the child custody process
  • Complying with all court orders
  • Keeping your temper
  • Avoiding temptations to lash out at your child’s other parent
  • Encouraging your child to have a relationship with their other parent

Some of these things are much easier said than done, but they can count for a lot when a judge doesn’t have much else upon which to judge two parents.

Are You Involved in a Child Custody Dispute?

If you require legal assistance to help you fight your child custody dispute, turn to the dedicated lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLP for support. With many years of combined experience, our firm’s attorneys have the skills and resources necessary to help our clients fight for better outcomes in child custody matters.

Learn more about how Claery & Hammond, LLP might be able to help you by contacting us online.