Court decisions in child custody cases can be life changing. Thorough preparation will help parents understand what to expect and can also make the divorce process less stressful. To request custody rights, a parent must file a petition, which is then served on the other parent. The other parent must respond within a specified time period, which is usually about 30 days. The petition may also include a request for financial information if child support is to be determined. Some parents must then attend mediation if the court orders it, although this is not always the case.
States have different child custody laws, and parents should familiarize themselves with these. Judges usually base their decisions on the child’s best interests, and this can depend on the parents’ jobs, work schedules, the types of relationships they have, any history of abuse, religious concerns, and medical issues. Parents can gather evidence by speaking with the child’s school, therapists, printing out photographs, and obtaining videos.
Keeping a record of the visitation schedule is important because it can establish the parent/child relationship. This can be beneficial for either parent’s claim if a lot of time is spent with the child; if little time is spent, it could be detrimental. Sharing the child’s report cards, doctor reports, phone call logs, and teacher and coach evaluations can also show how the child gets along under the parent’s care. Proof of any child support payments and large expenses should also be included.
All of this documentation is submitted to the court for the judge’s review and to the other parent before proceedings begin. Parents should make sure to have several copies of everything before sending it in, and should carefully read the other parent’s documentation.
Once the documentation is gathered and organized, creating a parenting plan can show the court how the parent plans to successfully take care of the child. As the hearing date approaches, it is a good idea to understand how things will proceed; some parents even attend other child custody hearings to watch and learn. Adhering to proper courtroom etiquette will show the court respect, and this is paramount. Yelling at an ex-partner or having an emotional outburst is never recommended. Making a good first impression can also go a long way, so wearing conservative clothing or office attire is a good idea.
Some parents must go through custody evaluations if the parents are argumentative or cannot otherwise agree on the custody parameters. These are ordered by the judge and are carried out by trained individuals, such as social workers or mental health professionals. They can include visitations to the parents’ homes and repeated meetings with the child.
Parents that are facing child custody issues can benefit by contacting the qualified Monmouth County child custody lawyers at Fox & Melofchik, L.L.C. We are experienced in all matters pertaining to child custody and will fight to protect your rights. For a free case evaluation, call us at 732-493-9400 or complete an online form.
Located in Eatontown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Mercer County, Ocean Township, Fair Haven, Eatontown, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Middletown Township, Wall Township, Sea Girt, and Spring Lake.