Preparing a Custody Schedule For Court: 5 Tips to Help You Shine
Your child custody hearing is one of the most important meetings of your life, and the outcome will impact your children’s lives significantly. In order to do your best and prepare everything you need to succeed, take the time to prepare on your own for the hearing.
One thing you can do to make this complex process go more smoothly is preparing a parenting plan for court that includes a custody schedule. Create a parenting plan that is truly in the best interest of your children. The judge is looking for a detailed, comprehensive plan from a parent or both parents that show a willingness to get along, promote the children’s needs and provide a stable and loving environment for them.
Because child custody hearings are emotionally charged and often intimidating for parents, there are several things you can do to ensure the court renders a decision that truly represents your children’s long-term best interests.
Here are 5 tips you can follow in preparing for your child custody hearing:
- Gather Documents. In preparation for your custody hearing, gather whatever information you can that show the court what is in your children’s best interest. Examples of documents might include a parenting journal of events in your children’s life, medical and counseling appointment records, details on family traditions and religious activities and anything else pertinent to your children’s lives. Use sticky notes to highlight particular areas you want the judge to focus on. Preparing a custody schedule for court that you feel reflects your children’s best interests is critical. Use software such as Custody X Change to create clear, concise documents that are ready for court.
- Show Openness to the Other Parent. Experts reveal that children do best when they have both parents involved in their lives, regardless of their marital status. The judge wants to see parents preparing a custody schedule for court that allows age appropriate visitations and plenty of quality time at both households. When you prepare a parenting plan and custody schedule, show that you are open to having the other parent involved with the children. Avoid anything that portrays you as vengeful, vindictive or highly emotional toward the other parent.
- Be Honest and Sincere. Never make claims or allegations that are untrue in an attempt to make yourself look better or to change the facts. It’s also wise to avoid damaging the other parent’s credibility or reputation. Boosting your own proposals with facts and documentation will look more positive than tearing down the other parent’s proposals. If allegations that you make are shown to be untrue, it could cast you in such a negative light with the court that any further issues, true or not, may not be believed.
- Dress the Part and Behave Responsibly. Appearance says a lot about you and especially how seriously you are taking the hearing. While you don’t need expensive clothing to make a good impression, be sure you are dressed and groomed appropriately for court. Wear something you’d appear in for a job interview, such as a shirt and tie for men and a sensible shirt and slacks for women. Keep your demeanor professional and confident and avoid emotional outbursts. Answer any questions directly and simply and always address the judge as “Your Honor.”
- Accept the Decisions Made. When the judge makes a decision about child custody, keep quiet and calm. Whether things have gone your way or not, your attitude about the decision still reflects on you for future court appearances. There are opportunities to appeal decisions you don’t like, and you will likely be back in court in the future to revise the parenting plan. If you have an outburst at the other parent or the judge, you will likely ruin your chances of appearing like a responsible, even-tempered parent.