How can I prepare for a custody hearing?

When it comes to custody decisions in a divorce, California judges base their decision on the child’s best interests. To determine where those interests lie, a judge must ask parents several questions that may make you uncomfortable at first. However, as your attorney can tell you, being open and honest is always best. Your attorney should prepare you for these questions, which require you to go into detail about your financial situation, as well as your ongoing relationship with the other parent.

Verywell Family notes that you should be prepared to discuss what type of custody plan you want and why. Courts are likely to prefer a joint arrangement that allows both parents time to maintain a relationship with the child. If you plan to ask for sole custody, you must be prepared to explain why and give evidence to support your application.

If you are already living separately, a judge will likely want to delve into the current custody situation and how it is working. If you want to change the existing arrangement, you will need to explain why, especially if the situation appears to be working well.

You should be ready to address how well and how often you and your spouse communicate with each other. A judge needs to have an idea of how you plan to work together when making decisions for your child. Frequent communication is key to ensuring that each parent can actively participate in the child’s life and daily activities. The nature of your communications, including whether there is a lot of friction or arguments between the two of you is another question you will need to address.

You can also expect a judge to ask about each parent’s finances to ensure the needs of the child are met. A child support payment amount may be decided in the same hearing, so be prepared to show evidence of your income, debt and other financial commitments.

The information in this article is general in nature and should not be considered legal advice.