You’re getting a divorce. Like many Texas parents, you’re worried about how the situation is going to affect your children. You want to do whatever you can to minimize the disruption and stress it will cause in their life. Providing for your kids in a divorce begins with child custody proceedings. What you do and say in court can have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome in your case.
If you show up in court without having taken any practical steps to prepare for proceedings, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if things don’t go your way. On the other hand, if you take time to prepare, you’ll no doubt increase the chances of gaining the court’s favor when you make a request, such as asking to be the custodial parent of your children. While there are many ways you can prepare for child custody proceedings, this post shares four helpful ideas.
Learn as much as you can about Texas child custody laws ahead of time
Every state has its own child custody guidelines and laws. The family court judge overseeing your case may act at his or her own discretion to make child custody decisions. It behooves you to have a basic understanding of state laws and guidelines before proceedings begin. If a particular issue causes you concern or you have a question about a specific law, it’s best to reach out for support and clarification, rather than attending proceedings with questions unanswered.
Understand proper etiquette in a courtroom
If you plan to request full custody of your kids during child custody proceedings, it’s not a good idea to show up in court wearing ill-fitted or sloppy-looking clothes. It’s also a bad idea to argue with your ex in front of the judge or to exhibit any type of behavior not aligned with proper courtroom etiquette.
Be prepared to show documentation or present witnesses as needed
Especially if you are requesting sole custody of your kids, you must convince the judge that your children are better off with you than with their other parent. If you’re going to claim that your ex is an unfit parent, the judge will expect you to present evidence to substantiate the allegations. Various types of documents may come in handy in your case.
If you’re not sure what type of paperwork to bring to court, it’s wise to speak with someone experienced in child custody litigation to obtain guidance and recommendations. In addition to documentation, you may also want to have character witnesses on hand or people who are willing to testify on your behalf.
Expect to answer the judge’s questions
When you want to gain the court’s favor in a Texas child custody case, it’s always best to be prepared to answer any questions the judge might have in response to your petition. You’ll want to appear confident, well-informed and ready to carry out your obligations and responsibilities to provide care and support for your children as they move on in life after your divorce.
Questions might include financial topics or issues concerning your employment, mental or physical health, or numerous other factors that the court wishes to consider before handing down a ruling. Keep in mind that the court always has children’s best interests in mind when making child custody decisions, and, if you believe that a ruling is unfair or will somehow place your children at risk, there is a process in place to appeal a decision.