Preparing for a custody hearing can feel emotional and overwhelming, especially when children are involved. Still, with help and guidance from your attorney, you want to be as prepared as possible. Here are some guidelines on how to help prepare for your child’s custody hearing.
Familiarize yourself with Texas child custody laws
To best prepare for your child’s custody hearing, get familiar with the custody laws in Texas. Read about the state laws and create a list of questions to ask your attorney. This will help with knowing what to expect when you enter the courtroom on the hearing day.
Try to work with your spouse on custody arrangements
While you and your soon-to-be-ex are ending your marriage, you are still both the parents of your children. If possible, it’s good to show the court that you can work together for the benefit of the kids. Depending on your situation, if you are unwilling to cooperate, this could impact your custody rights.
Gather the Proper Documents
Before the custody hearing, you’ll need to gather the proper documents. Depending on your circumstances, these could vary. Your attorney should be able to help you determine the specific ones you need. This may include:
- Your driver’s license, passport, or another form of photo I.D.
- Proof of your address (mortgage statement, utility bill, etc)
- Your child(ren)’s birth certificate(s)
- Divorce decree (if applicable)
- Proof of income
- Social security cards for you and your child(ren)
- The other parent’s contact information.
In addition to these documents, you may also need to provide proof of paternity, any child support payments, and a visitation schedule.
If you are concerned that your spouse might attempt to make you look like a bad parent or bad influence on your children, it’s a good idea to collect evidence that contradicts this. There are several ways you can do this.
For example, you could request a custody evaluation. An evaluation involves a professional coming into your home to meet you and your children. This person will also visit the other parent’s home and report their recommendation back to the court.
Additionally, you can have witnesses testify on your behalf. This could include family members, teachers, friends, etc. You can also present the court with school records, medical records, and other documentation showing you take care of your responsibilities with your child(ren).
Know what to expect and how to behave on court day
You may feel emotional or nervous on court day. It helps to know in advance what to do and how to act on the day of your child’s custody hearing. Your attorney can help you prepare for this day. Here are a few things to remember:
- Be punctual for your child’s custody hearing. This shows the judge you are serious about the proceedings, and it gives you time to review your case with your attorney.
- Dress appropriately for court. Wear your Sunday best or something professional as if you are going on a job interview.
- Be prepared to answer questions about topics such as your custody situation, your relationship with the other parent, or your financial status.
- Stay composed throughout the proceedings. Even if you are tempted to yell or argue over something you disagree with, don’t do it. Speak when it’s your turn or when your attorney says it’s okay to do so.
Work with an attorney
Whether you and your spouse agree on the best interests of your child(ren) or not, it’s still a good idea to have legal representation. With emotions running high and your children’s future at stake, you need someone on your side who is familiar with Texas custody laws and can help you prepare for your child’s custody hearing.
Jennifer Espronceda cares about her divorce clients and their families. She is a native Texan and resident of San Antonio. She will help you prepare for your custody case so that you can enter the courtroom confident and ready. Contact Espronceda Law for more information.