When I started getting into trouble I became pretty acclimated to legal procedures. Calling my attorney and working out bail was just another way to spend a Saturday night. Unfortunately, the stiffer the charges, the more difficult it was to talk my way out of a bad situation. After so many charges, I found myself slapped with a long jail sentence, and I realized that I wanted to turn things around. Fortunately, my lawyer was able to walk me through yet another process, so that I could make the right changes. My blog discusses how to emotionally cope with legal issues so that you can start living a good life.
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A custody hearing may well be the most important court appearance you'll ever have, and you want to make sure that things go right. However, most people don't know what to expect when it comes to child custody hearings. They're different from other types of court hearings – there's no jury, only a judge, and the judge is less interested in which side is right or wrong than they are in what is in the best interest of the child. Take a look at some tips that can help you prepare for a successful custody hearing:
Bring All the Documentation That You Can
As with any legal case, you need evidence to back up your position. In a child custody hearing, most of that evidence is documentation of one kind or another. For example, if you're a non-custodial parent petitioning for increased visitation or physical custody, then one thing that you'll want to be able to show the judge is proof that you've been paying child support.
If you're looking to regain custody of a child, you'll want to show that whatever circumstances caused you to lose custody have changed. So, you may need to show a lease and pictures of your home, for example, to prove that you have proper housing. If you're trying to prove that the other parent is unfit, then you'll need documentation to support that as well, like medical records that document abuse. Having hard evidence is powerful.
Know What Makes a Good Witness
You may want to bring in witnesses to support your testimony. Witness testimony can also be an important type of evidence, but it's important to know what makes a good witness in the eyes of a judge.
Your friends or family members may not be the best choices, and at the very least, they shouldn't be your only witnesses. The judge will expect that they may be biased in your favor. That doesn't mean that the judge will think those witnesses are lying, just that they may be predisposed to view you in the best possible light and your child's other parent in the worst possible light. These types of witnesses can demonstrate that you have family and social support, which can be helpful, but they may not necessarily swing the verdict.
Experts and disinterested third parties make better witnesses in court. For instance, your child's pediatrician, daycare provider, or teachers can provide important information about what they've seen of your parenting and your child's welfare, and these witnesses presumably don't have a reason to be biased in your favor. Their testimony can be very powerful evidence.
Make a Good Impression
Sometimes parents who are estranged from each other can push each other's buttons. This is especially true when there's a dispute about child custody. But it's important to control your temper when you're in court. The last thing you want is for the judge to believe that you have difficulty controlling yourself.
Go to court dressed professionally, sit quietly, and stay calm, no matter what anyone else says in the courtroom. Even if you believe your child's other parent or a witness is lying to make you look bad, you must remain calm. Your attorney will have a chance to respond and tell your side of the story, and you may be able to testify yourself, depending on the situation. Waiting for your turn and letting your attorney speak for you shows restraint and good judgment, and that's an impression that you want to leave on a judge.
Child custody cases can be involved and difficult, and you shouldn't try to tackle yours alone. A good child custody attorney can mean the difference between a successful hearing and an unsuccessful one. Make sure that you have a skilled local attorney on your side during a custody fight.Share