Child custody hearings affect thousands of families in Texas. These proceedings can be intimidating, especially for people who’ve had little contact with the world of family law. Arming yourself with some knowledge about how a custody hearing works can demystify the process. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more comfortable in the courtroom and more able to advocate for yourself and your interests.
Be prepared for your court date
There’s both a practical and an emotional side to preparing for a child custody hearing. In pragmatic terms, it’s important to have the documentation the judge will want to see. Your lawyer can help you understand what this entails and why it’s important. Typically, communication logs (texts and calls), proof of support, and any existing visitation plans should be included in this. You should also bring any notes you want, including questions you may want to raise.
In the courtroom, standards for behavior are more regimented than in other spaces. Everyone rises and sits when the judge instructs them to, for example. Be prepared to address the judge as Your Honor if you need to speak to them. Mostly, your lawyer will do the talking. Speak with your attorney about what the dress code for the courtroom is before your hearing date. Child custody cases are very emotional, but it’s important to show self-control in the courtroom. Having an outburst will only work against you.
Finally, understand that a custody hearing is not like a trial. There’s no jury there, just a judge who has the best interest of the children at heart. Courts know that children do better when they have more concerned, supportive adults in their lives. Even if you don’t receive primary or joint custody, you will likely be granted generous visitation. The court wants you to have a relationship with your children. Unless there is a history of abuse or another big problem, they will work to make that happen.