A child custody case is often intimidating for parents. You obviously want to present yourself in the best possible light, but you also want to refrain from bad-mouthing the other parent, which most courts look down upon. To ensure you're properly prepared for your case, Very Well Family offers the following advice.
If you're seeking sole custody, familiarize yourself with the better parent standard. In most cases, the court wants both parents to share custody equally unless it's shown that one parent offers a higher level of care than the other. Proving you're the better parent can be quite difficult, barring circumstances involving abuse or neglect. You may want to establish that you were responsible for the majority of caregiving while you and your spouse were married. If so, the court will be reluctant to deprive the child of this stability.
You also want to make a good impression during the hearing. Along with dressing in an acceptable manner, you must refrain from emotional outbursts or accusations towards your ex. Even if you're in the right, this will present the wrong image to the court during your hearing. Many attorneys even take their clients through roleplaying exercises to properly prepare them. That way you'll be ready for the type of questions asked, which can be jarring in some circumstances. You should also read up on the custody laws in your state. Even the way custody is referred to can vary quite a bit, so going into the process with a solid understanding is a must.
Lastly, keep in mind that the actual hearing might not be what you expect. No jury will be present during the hearing. Instead, a judge will listen to both sides of the case and make a determination based on the information and documents presented. You are free to appeal the decision if you disagree with the ruling, but you'll likely receive the same decision unless you have new information to present.
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