How to Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing in PennsylvaniaPublished: May 19, 2017 in Child Custody
Written by Anthony Piccirilli
When you are part of a child custody proceeding, you cannot simply go to court and expect to get all the time you want with your kids. Things are usually much more complicated. It is not enough to show up and state you are good mom and dad. Without any preparation, you will not understand Pennsylvania law, the standard the judge uses to determine what is best for your children, and the potential outcomes to the hearing.
You need an attorney who can help you prepare for the child custody hearing, present you to the court in the best light, and if necessary, offer up evidence regarding issues with the other parent having custody.
Preparing for a Child Custody Hearing
Before a child custody hearing in court, you should take the following steps:
- Hire an experienced family law attorney.
If you and your child’s other parent are heading to court to determine a custody arrangement for your children, you need an experienced Pittsburgh child custody lawyer by your side. Child custody matters are governed by state law and focus on what is best for the children. By working with an attorney, you learn Pennsylvania law and what to expect. Without sound legal advice, you walk into court blind about what is most likely to happen.
- Provide your attorney with honest information.
You will need to meet with your attorney to go over a variety of information about your current situation, your past relationship with the other parent, your children’s needs, and what you hope comes out of the child custody proceedings. If you want full custody of your children, you and your attorney will have to gather evidence regarding why you are the better parent and why the other parent is a danger to your children. If you are the non-custodial parent, you and your attorney can discuss how to maximize your time with your kids. Your lawyer may have to ask you uncomfortable questions regarding your relationship with alcohol or drugs, the state of your mental health, and any criminal history. You should be honest with your attorney at all times.
- Ask your lawyer questions.
Your relationship with your lawyer is always a two-way street. Your attorney will need information and documentation from you. However, they are also there to provide you with information. Never hesitate to ask questions regarding your child custody matter. The more you know about the law and practicalities of determining child custody and visitation, the better prepared you will be.
- Mentally prepare for any outcome.
You and your attorney will discuss your ideal child custody arrangement, whether that is sole custody, a 50/50 split, or every other weekend. You will also discuss the information necessary to make this happen, including evidence for the court. Be sure to discuss with your attorney various potential outcomes of your child custody hearing, including less-than-ideal arrangements. Mentally preparing to not get what you want can soften the blow if the hearing does not go your way. It also prepares you to co-parent no matter the court’s final determination.
- Plan out the day of the hearing.
Leading up to the hearing, ensure you have time off work and transportation to the courthouse. You should also discuss what to wear with your attorney and proper courtroom behavior. During the hearing, attorneys will do a majority of the talking. The judge will expect you to be calm and patient, speaking only when directed to. This can be frustrating when the hearing does not go your way, but it is essential that it does not turn into a shouting match. By dressing and behaving appropriately in court, you only help your chances of receiving the custody outcome you want. If you are ill-prepared for the hearing, such as arriving late or speaking out of turn, you make yourself look bad.
- Be ready to co-parent.
Part of preparing for a child custody hearing is acknowledging what comes next: co-parenting your children with their other mom or dad. Your attorney will strive to obtain the custody or visitation schedule you want. However, it is possible to not get as much time with your children as you wanted. You still have to be ready to work with their other parent to make the arrangement go smoothly and keep your children happy and healthy.
Our Pittsburgh Child Custody Lawyers Are Ready to Help
Child custody proceedings are stressful. However, you can ease the strain by working with a skilled Pittsburgh family attorney and preparing as thoroughly as possible for your child custody hearing.
To learn more about fighting for custody, call Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC today at (412) 471-5100. Whether you are currently the custodial or non-custodial parent, we will fight for you to have time with your children.