What can I expect during a child custody hearing?

Child Custody & Support
What can I expect during a child custody hearing?

When a couple divorces, child custody issues are often the hardest to figure out. As a result, many parents in North Carolina experience stress and anxiety regarding their child custody hearing. The following information explains what you can expect so you can prepare for your day in court.

Developing a parenting plan

You and your former spouse should develop a parenting plan on your own and present it to the court. Parents know best when it comes to scheduling and other considerations, so most courts prefer to leave parenting plans in their hands. While all plans are unique, be prepared to include a schedule that explicitly spells out visitation for each day of the year, including holidays and summer break.

Transportation also should be covered in great detail. You need to address how your child will be transported to school, doctor’s appointments and many other places. You also can feel free to include information on how the child can contact the other parent when in one parent’s care.

All decisions made in the best interest of the child

Most courts prefer to grant parents joint custody, as it is often in the best interest of the children at the center of the custody dispute. Joint physical custody means a child will spend equal time with each parent.

With sole custody, the noncustodial parent will not have a say in major decisions regarding the child. Visitation will be possible, so both parents will establish a visitation schedule.

Other factors in a child custody hearing

During your child custody hearing, the court also will review your financial status and that of your ex-spouse. You need to show you have the means to properly care for your child. The judge also will want to know if you and ex-spouse are in communication about how to raise your child and make sure neither of you is trying to withhold important information from the other.

Finally, the judge will evaluate if you already have an informal child custody agreement or are modifying an existing legal custody order.

Throughout the case, you should keep in mind what’s best for your child and try not to let any negative emotions about your ex become part of your testimony. You want to show the judge that you care about what’s best for your child too.