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Child Custody & Parenting Plans

Take the Fear out of a Child Custody Hearing with Preparation

You may have attempted to work out an amicable parenting plan with your future former spouse, but for one reason or another, the negotiations broke down. Now, neither of you can get to a place where you can resolve the matter without the assistance of the court.

You filed all of the necessary documents, and now you are waiting for your hearing date. As it approaches, you may begin to get nervous wondering how it will go. It may help relieve some of your stress if you prepare for your hearing.

It pays to be prepared

Not only can being prepared help reduce your stress and anxiety, but it could also help your hearing go better. Consider taking the steps below prior to your child custody hearing:

  • Make sure that you have all of the necessary documentation ready to go. If you are seeking sole custody, you may want to be prepared to show why you are the better parent, but refrain from "slamming" the other parent since the court will probably not appreciate it.
  • Obtain an understanding of how California's child custody laws apply and affect your family and requests to the court, including the better parent standard.
  • Obtain an understanding of how the hearing will proceed. Knowing what to expect could relieve some of your stress.
  • Choose your attire. You don't necessarily have to wear a suit and tie or a dress, but you may want to avoid wearing jeans and a t-shirt since the way you present yourself does reflect on your character and shows the court respect.

More than likely, the judge will review the paperwork that you submitted to the court prior to the hearing. Even so, he or she may still have questions for you. Reviewing your paperwork to anticipate the type of questions that the court may ask you could also provide you with some confidence regarding the hearing. You may also want to prepare yourself for the fact that the judge could make a decision that day. There won't be a jury in the courtroom.

If your case is particularly contentious, you may want to consider what types of objections your ex-spouse will have to your child custody requests. For instance, if you believe that he or she will attempt to show the court that you are an unfit parent, then you need to be ready with responses to refute those types of allegations. If you just need the judge to make some final decisions, but you and your ex somewhat agree, then the nature of the questions may change.

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