Child custody hearings can be quite stressful for parents. This is especially true if you have a contentious relationship with your former spouse, who may wish to fight you for primary custody or attempt to set rigid visitation terms. Being properly prepared is your best chance of receiving a successful outcome, according to Very Well Family.
If you plan on requesting sole legal or physical custody, be sure you fully understand the better parent standard. In many cases, the court prefers to award custody jointly so a child can develop healthy relationships with both parents. However, if one parent can show that he or she offers a higher level of care, which can be established by showing evidence that you were primarily responsible for providing childcare during your marriage, the court will consider awarding sole custody.
Each state has different criteria used to establish the better parent standard, so make sure you’re aware of these criteria when compiling evidence. You should also ensure that you’re bringing the proper documentation to the court on the day of the hearing. While documents can vary greatly, things like proof of child support payments, medical records, and phone logs are quite common.
Finally, make sure you present yourself well on the day of your hearing. Even if you’re an exceptional parent, failure to follow pertinent courtroom etiquette will paint you in a poor light. Dress appropriately in business clothing, the kind you would wear to a job interview. When presenting your case to the court, always be polite and respectful. Never yell at or insult your ex, even if you believe they’re being dishonest. Your attorney can provide more specific guidance for your individual needs.