Child custody hearings can be intimidating, especially if it's your first time in court. Some parents may feel like they have very little control of the outcome, as they let the courts decide how they'll co-parent in the future. However, with a plan, and with the help of an experienced child custody attorney, you can significantly increase your chances of getting child custody.
Here are a few things you should do before your hearing to ensure you're prepared.
Have a general understanding of your state's child custody laws
Child custody laws vary state by state. Hence why it's important for you to have a basic understanding of how your state determines child custody before you walk into court. Of course, you don't have to be an expert (that's what lawyers are for), but it's better to gain somewhat of an understanding of the law so you aren't completely left in the dark throughout the process. Also, being informed means you'll be able to ask your attorney the right questions, and you can follow the case for yourself.
Bring the proper documentation
One of the most important things you can do before attending a hearing is to gather the paperwork and documents necessary for the hearing. You should consult with your attorney to determine which documents are important and whether they are admissible in court. Some paperwork that most parents bring includes custody evaluations, cell phone logs, visitation schedules, and proof of child support payments.
Understand how your state determines who is the “better” parent
In some child custody cases, the courts will attempt to determine who is the "better" parent. This can be a difficult task, to say the least.
In Pennsylvania courts, one factor that heavily influences this decision is each parent's availability. Other important factors may include a parent's criminal history and salary.
Many people are under the impression that gender is a serious factor in this decision. But according to statutory law, judges aren't allowed to make judgments based on gender.
Dress appropriately for court
Obviously, you want to make the best impression you can in court. So, dressing the part is important. As shallow as this may seem, the judge will form an opinion of you based on your appearance. For example, if you wear shorts, a wife-beater, and some flip flops to court, chances are the judge won't perceive you as a responsible adult.
Ask your attorney about what you should wear to send the message that you take the role of a parent seriously.
Pennsylvania Family Law Attorney
With all the things to consider in a child custody case, predicting an outcome in a hearing is pretty difficult. This is why it's important that you retain a qualified family law attorney who has extensive knowledge of the state's process and has helped parents get an arrangement that reflects the best interest of their child. To ensure your parental rights are protected, and your contributions are considered, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.