Divorce is never pleasant, but it is the best option for some families. One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is deciding who will get custody of the children. This blog contains some helpful tips on how to prepare for your upcoming court date.
In the past, mothers have generally been granted primary custody while fathers have been required to pay child support. This is no longer the case. The judicial system now focuses more on which parent is better equipped to provide for a child’s emotional and physical well-being.
You can prepare for your day in court by showing the judge that you are emotionally and physically fit to raise a child. Wear a professional outfit. Speak respectfully to the judge, attorneys, your ex-spouse, and anyone else who may be in attendance. By remaining calm and having a clean appearance, you will show the judge that you are stable enough to care for your child’s needs.
Your Financial Ability
A judge will also want to see that you are financially able to raise your child. If you have a job, be sure to bring in documents and bank statements that will show you have put a lot of thought and consideration into your child’s future.
Your Custody Preferences
Furthermore, you will need to explain which type of custody you are seeking. Are you looking to get sole custody or joint custody? Sole custody is generally awarded only if one parent is abusive or frequently absent. If you are in such a situation, bring any type of documentation that will prove your claims. The judge will not want to place your child in harm’s way.
If you are seeking joint custody, you should be aware of the differences between physical and legal custody. Legal custody is the ability to make long-term decisions for your child. Physical custody concerns where the child will live. You need to decide whether you want joint legal custody while maintaining sole physical custody or want to have joint physical custody as well.
A great way to decide who gets physical custody is to ask your child what he or she would like to do, assuming they are old enough to understand. Remember that this custody battle is about them, and they probably have an opinion. Let them voice their personal concerns and desires, and take your child’s opinion into consideration before going to court so you’re not blindsided by a previously unknown preference.
Your Child’s Well-being
Unfortunately, children do not always know what is best for their needs. If you feel like your child’s other parent is not fit to raise a child, do not keep these thoughts to yourself. However, you should not make unfounded claims; bring as much proof as you can.
A judge doesn’t want to see two fighting parents, but if the situation requires you to expose some of the other parent’s character flaws that will inhibit them from being a good care giver, the time to bring attention to them is now. Pictures and testimony from your child or another witness are good ideas.
At the end of the day, the judge just wants to ensure that your child is granted safety and good emotional and physical care. Be ready to show how you can provide these things for him or her. The way you present yourself will have a large impact on the ruling.
Be sure to hire a family lawyer, like the ones at Sanchez & Farrar PLLC, to defend your case. Also, contact your lawyer for advice throughout every step of this difficult process. Remember, your attorney is there to help you.