Child-custody hearings can be nerve-wracking and stressful, even for parents familiar with the process. The judge has a lot of authority to decide which parent gets legal custody, and it’s unwise to go into the hearing without preparing as much as possible.
You won’t know what exactly will happen at your first child-custody hearing, but being prepared will help you present your side of the story and set realistic expectations. It’s best advised to work closely with your lawyer and use these tips to prepare; read on to learn more.
Florida Child Custody Laws
The laws regarding child custody are complex, and you may not be able to figure out what will happen at your hearing just by reading the statutes. Consulting with a lawyer will give you an idea of what to expect at the hearing and what you can do to improve your chances of winning.
Gather all relevant documents before your hearing. These include birth certificates, medical records, police reports, social services reports, and any other documents related to your case. If you can’t get all the documents yourself, hire a private investigator or ask the court clerk for help. Both parents need to bring all relevant documents to the court, even if they won’t be used in the hearing.
Get an Idea of What to Expect
Figure out what your objectives are before going into the courtroom. Do you want full custody or joint custody? If you’re fighting for complete control, why? Is it because you want to protect your children from the other parent’s bad habits? Or another reason. The judge will decide what happens based on what he thinks is best for the children.
When fighting for custody of your children, it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of it all. It’s normal to feel emotional during a child custody hearing. But parents who wish to win custody must behave appropriately in court or risk losing control.
Discuss proper courtroom etiquette with your lawyer to get a better understanding of what’s expected. As well as any pitfalls—like emotional outbursts or accusatory statements—you need to avoid or be on the lookout for.
A reasonable attorney will coach you on how to act and what to say when you’re in court. Below are some tips on how to conduct yourself properly in family court:
- Show respect for the judge, mediator, and other attorneys by dressing professionally and acting accordingly.
- Come prepared with documents, exhibits, and other evidence you plan to present. Make copies for the judge, opposing counsel, and yourself. Be organized; bring notes that can help jog your memory if needed.
- Listen carefully when others are speaking so that you can intelligently respond if necessary.
- During your testimony, be concise and answer questions directly without rambling or making emotional.
Prepare Yourself for a Decision Not in Your Favor
Awarding child custody is an extremely serious business. There are many factors to consider, and a judge will make the final decision. It’s essential to have realistic expectations. While you may hope that the judge will rule in your favor, it’s always a wise idea to be prepared for a decision, not in your favor.
If you’re like most people, when you think about losing a child custody hearing, your first thought is probably about how you’ll feel. After all, it’s common for us to focus on our own emotions when thinking about a stressful situation. But there is more to worry about than just your feelings, and there are legal considerations and financial matters to address as well.
Being prepared for an unfavorable outcome means thinking through these details and knowing what needs to be done should things not go as planned.
Child Custody Hearing: Conclusion
The advice in this article won’t guarantee that you will receive legal custody of your children, but it can help you be prepared for the possibility. Work closely with a lawyer to ensure that you are presented in the most favorable light possible to the judge; if you need help discussing a course of action for your upcoming child custody hearing in Port Orange, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys today!