When you have a child custody hearing scheduled, you want to be as prepared as possible. If you’re not, it can impact the results of your hearing greatly. Preparing for your child custody hearing starts with meeting with your attorney and having the right documents with you.
Documents to Bring to Your Child Custody Hearing
Before your child custody hearing, you’ll want to have several basic documents with you.
- A photo I.D. (driver’s license or passport)
- Proof of address (such as a bill or mortgage statement)
- Birth certificate(s) of the children you are seeking child support for
- Contact information for the other parent
- Proof of paternity, such as an affidavit or the results of a DNA test
- Social Security cards for yourself and each of your children
- Proof of income, such as recent pay stubs and/or W-2 forms
- Your divorce decree, if applicable
Besides these basic documents, you’ll also want to have the following:
- A detailed phone log of conversations between your child and the other parent
- Annotated visitation schedule
- Proof of child support payments
All of these documents are essential if you are planning for a child custody hearing in Texas.
How to Prepare for Your Child Custody Hearing
Besides having the proper documents, there are other things you can do to prepare for your child custody hearing.
Consider Having Witnesses
These witnesses can testify to your character and your interactions with your child. They can be family members, social workers, or your child’s coaches and teachers. These are people who know about the bond you and your child share and will be able to tell the court about it.
Gather any Evidence
If there are any threatening text messages or voicemails from your ex, you’ll want to bring them to your child custody hearing. Any evidence that shows that your ex is not fit to have custody of your child should be presented. Things can get heated during a child custody hearing. It’s important to realize this and be prepared for it.
Resist the Urge to Yell Out
There may be statements made during the hearing that you don’t agree with. Resist the urge to yell during the court proceedings. This will only anger the judge and portray you in a negative light. Stay composed. Only speak when it is your turn or when your attorney says it is okay to do so. You don’t want to appear as a hothead who can’t control themselves.
Besides acting appropriately, it’s also important to dress appropriately. You want to be taken seriously and present yourself in the best light possible. Keep the jeans and sweatpants at home. Wearing your Sunday best is a good rule of thumb.
Show Up to the Courthouse Early
Being punctual shows the judge that you take the proceedings seriously. This will also give you time to go over your case with your attorney.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
You will likely be asked questions during the hearing. Your attorney can help you prepare by letting you know some of the most frequently asked questions during a child custody hearing. These can include:
- What is your financial status?
- Which type of custody situation are you seeking and why?
- What is your relationship/communication like with the other parent?
These types of questions can paint a clearer picture of the situation for the judge. Your answers can influence the judge’s decision. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and honest.
What Type of Custody Will I be Granted?
This depends on what you asked for and what the court believes is in the best interest of the child. The types of custody include:
Legal custody allows a parent to make long-term decisions when it comes to raising their child and their well-being. This includes decisions about the child’s education, medical care, and religion among other things. In many cases, both parents get legal custody, also referred to as joint legal custody.
Physical custody refers to where a child lives daily. The parent who has physical custody takes care of the child on a day-to-day basis. When one parent has physical custody the other parent usually has visitation rights.
Sole custody gives only one parent complete custody of the child. This is often awarded when the other parent is absent or abusive.
In these types of custody situations, the child splits the time between the two parents’ homes. Parents can have joint legal and physical custody where the child lives some of the time with one parent and some of the time with the other. Both parents will make decisions about the child’s well-being, education, etc.
In other joint custody arrangements, both parents will share legal custody. This gives physical custody to one parent but allows both parents to make decisions about the child.
Do You Need Help with a Child Custody Hearing?
If you are going through a divorce and need help with child custody issues, Illaraza Law is here for you. Before going to a hearing, we will see if the mediation process will work for you and your ex. This allows parents to come to a mutual decision rather than letting the courts decide their children’s fate. This is not always possible in all cases.