When parents must attend a child custody hearing, they need to be prepared for the various topics that could be discussed at that hearing. Grandparents, relatives, guardians, and others in the case may be asked to attend, and everyone must know what to expect before the hearing begins.
Do I Need to Know the Law?
Parents or guardians do not necessarily need to know the law, and hiring a lawyer will be advantageous. When parents come to court, they can defer to their attorneys. Parents, however, must understand that there is an agenda. The law does not allow for one parent to take over the hearing, a judge needs to hear both sides.
What Can I Expect?
The court will set a time for the hearing through the attorneys for both sides. Since the court is often very busy, everyone must be on time for the hearing. The judge will call the hearing to begin as quickly as possible. The attorneys may make motions or petition the court for specific items when the hearing starts.
At this point, the judge will handle the hearing. The judge will ask questions to both sides, attempt to ascertain the truth, issue a ruling, or close the hearing when they have gathered enough information.
Can I Speak to the Judge?
When parents arrive at the courthouse, they may only speak to the judge when the judge addresses them. This is very important because courtroom etiquette is vital. The judge cannot conduct their business if there is no order in the courtroom, and rude behavior will not be tolerated.
Lawyers can arrange private meetings with a judicial official when necessary, but parents cannot contact the court to schedule these meetings. Harassing a judge or court clerk will not improve the outcome of the case.
Will I Testify?
Parents will not necessarily testify, but they will answer questions during the hearing. While parents are asked to answer honestly, they might not know what to say. Working with a lawyer will be helpful.
If parents need to bring documents to court, their lawyer will ask for those documents and organize them. Parents may need to speak about the information in these documents, and it might help to review the paperwork with a lawyer first.
Should My Children Attend?
Children should not attend custody hearings. While the judge may want to meet with the children privately, that is something that an attorney must arrange that is separate from the hearing. Children are often not prepared to hear everything that will come up in a custody hearing, or they might be too young to manage during the hearing. Arrange for childcare on the day of the hearing, and leave a few hours free in case the hearing is longer than expected.
If a parent is concerned about an upcoming hearing, they should speak to their lawyer about preparation.
Moorestown Child Custody Lawyers at Stockton Family Law Help Clients with Child Custody Hearings
Our Moorestown child custody lawyers at Stockton Family Law can help you if you have a pending hearing or have issues with child custody. Call us at 856-412-5052 or contact us online for an initial consultation. Located in Moorestown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mount Laurel, Burlington County, and Camden County.