In an ideal world, you could easily agree to parental leave and a parental plan without going to court. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy.
Unfortunately, not every separating couple can agree on parenting agreements. Sometimes a mandatory family dispute resolution isn’t enough to get the job done. In such situations, you need to turn to the court to make arrangements for children. The risk is that one or both of you will be disappointed with the family court’s custody or maintenance decision. It doesn’t matter what disagreements or problems you have with your ex, family law ensures that custody arrangements should always be about the best interests of the child. This is what your hearing will focus on. That being said, I’d like to share some tips with you in preparation for the hearing as someone who has struggled through family dispute resolution in a family relationship center and has not achieved successful family mediation.
7 tips for preparation
- Do you know the law
It is always advisable to familiarize yourself with relevant laws on custody and parental responsibility. Unless the court determines otherwise due to domestic violence or other safety issues, you share parental responsibility with the other parent. Having a good idea of the laws that apply to you can better prepare yourself to speak to your attorney about your hearing.
- The better parent
This is generally the standard used when one parent has sole custody. The family court would seldom give sole custody unless there is family violence or addiction problems. Even if the goal is joint custody, you should discuss with your lawyer how best to highlight that you are the better parent.
- The documentation
Your lawyer should tell you exactly what types of documents you will need for your day in court. You may need to submit personal documents as well as the current custody plan along with evidence of child support payments. If there is abuse, you want to document as much of it as possible and your lawyer will likely ask you to bring everything with you.
- Courtroom etiquette
You should know what is expected of you when you get to court. Your attorney may role-play to prepare you for this, but it is important that you avoid accusatory statements or emotional outbursts. While you’re only human, you can’t let anything get under your skin. This is about your child / children.
You need to know what to expect during your trial. While family court hearings are less combative, you should be ready to go through every step of the hearing process. There is no jury involved, there is a judge who hears both sides and makes a decision on the parents’ orders.
- Appropriate dress
Man reading business section of newspaper; Image from Rawpixel via Unsplash.com.
If you want to make a positive first impression, dress appropriately for a court hearing. They will form an opinion of you before they know your name (or that of your child (s)) or the details of your case. While that may sound unfair, it is human nature. That doesn’t mean you have to buy designer labels. It simply means that you should present yourself as a responsible adult and dress smartly. Ultimately, it’s about presenting yourself in the best possible light.
- The children
In an ideal world, you could easily agree to parental leave and a parental plan without going to court. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. When it’s time to go to court, find childcare for your children. You shouldn’t go to court. However, if you do need to speak to a judicial office, speak to the court staff beforehand for a better understanding. Maybe someone can take them once that appointment is completed.