As you began your divorce proceedings, you probably thought about trying to resolve your child custody issues without having to go to court. Perhaps the other parent wouldn’t cooperate, or some other extenuating circumstance that prevents you from amicably working out a plan exists.
It doesn’t matter whether you are requesting sole or joint custody. You still need to show the court that this would serve the best interests of the children. You cannot simply walk into a Denver courtroom and tell the judge that is what you want and expect the judge to simply agree.
Preparation is key
Because the judge does not know you and your family, he or she will need certain information from you in order to make the best decision possible for your children. The more prepared you are, the smoother the hearing will go. To that end, below are some preparation tips and the minimum factors the court considers:
- Know all you can about each of your children. The court will want to know that you keep track of the small and large details in their lives from the name of their teachers to who their friends are and everything in between.
- Make sure you can show the court that your living arrangements adequately accommodate the children, which may include living in a safe neighborhood and near their friends and other family.
- Do your current living arrangements minimize the disruptions your divorce has on the children’s routines and lives? Courts tend to want to make sure the children’s routines can remain as consistent as possible.
- Let the court know that you and the other parent can work together when it comes to the children.
- Badmouthing or pointing out the limitations of the other parent will not earn points with the court. Instead, focus on how you will serve the best interests of the children.
- Gather any witnesses you feel necessary who can vouch for your character as a parent.
- Gather any documentation you feel would help support your position and help the court make the decision you desire.
- Dress appropriately. Judges are still human and will form an opinion about you based on how seriously you take the proceedings, which can be illustrated by your appearance as well as your demeanor and attitude.
If you are seeking sole custody due to some issue with the other parent such as substance abuse, domestic abuse or an issue with the children’s safety with the other parent, then you will also need to make sure you can provide appropriate evidence of it to the court.
One other thing that may help you as you prepare for your custody hearing is to gain an understanding of your rights and state laws regarding child custody issues. You can obtain this information and assistance with the above from an attorney experienced in this area of law.