As a California parent going through a divorce, there are certain things you should do to prepare for a child custody hearing. This starts with doing some research so that you have a better idea of what to expect and what your rights and obligations are. This can be helpful even if you have an attorney since it will give you an idea of what you need to discuss with them.
Courts usually lean toward granting joint physical custody, so if you are planning to ask for sole custody, you may need to bring in documentation to support your request. For example, you might need to show that you are the child’s primary caregiver and demonstrate why it is in the child’s best interest that you have sole custody. Even if you are planning on joint custody, you may need documentation such as information on your own schedule and the child’s schedule or about child support paid or received.
You should also know what to expect in the hearing itself, including how to dress and conduct yourself in court. Going to the child custody hearing can be stressful and painful, but losing your temper at your spouse or the judge will not help your case. It is important to try to remain calm and respectful and to dress as you would for an important job interview or another formal occasion. If you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, you have the right to appeal it.
Preparing yourself ahead of time and knowing what to expect can take away some of the stress you feel anticipating a child custody hearing. Furthermore, focusing on what is in the best interests of your child can help you make the right decisions about how to proceed.