Virginia parents who are separated or divorced will likely find themselves involved in the custody process at some point. There are many steps to the process, and sometimes custody disputes can be resolved without appearing in a courtroom, but the reality is that sometimes they cannot.
If you are like most parents, you want the best for your children, and this means you will fight for a custody schedule that is in your children’s best interests. When you and the other parent cannot agree on the terms of a custody agreement, you will have a custody hearing in front of a judge, who will make the decisions for you.
Know the custody laws
There are many things you can do to improve your chances of success in custody court. An experienced custody attorney can provide advice on Virginia custody laws, the factors a judge will consider and how they apply to your specific situation.
Many parents are not sure exactly what happens at a custody hearing. A custody attorney can appear with you at the hearing, taking away some of the stress that often comes with an unknown situation.
A custody hearing commonly involves presenting evidence in the form of testimony or exhibits. Collect and gather any documents you would like the judge to see. It may be helpful to write down the custody schedule you and the other parent have been following and keep track of any missed custody or visitation time.
Dress and act properly at the hearing
Providing the judge with a good impression at the hearing is important. Dress appropriately for a courtroom hearing. This typically means dressing conservatively to give the impression that you are a responsible adult.
Conduct yourself in a respectful and appropriate manner at the hearing, both toward the judge and the other parent. Although inside you may be nervous, angry or upset, be polite and respectful to everyone present. You risk a bad outcome if the judge sees you behaving inappropriately.
Many times, judges do not rule on custody on the day of the hearing, especially in complex cases. You may need to wait several days, or even weeks, for the judge’s decision.
The custody process can be challenging and overwhelming. Keeping these things in mind can increase your chance of a favorable outcome at a custody hearing.