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Tips for a child custody hearing

Divorcing parents in Tennessee who expect to go to court over their rights can take some steps that could increase the likelihood that they will be awarded physical custody. They should familiarize themselves with state law and may want to work with an attorney.

How parents present themselves in court can be critical. Parents should show a willingness to work with teach other unless the child is genuinely unsafe with one of them. If this is the case, parents should prepare documentation demonstrating this. However, they should be aware that the other parent might also be preparing a similar case. An in-home custody evaluation may be helpful if one parent is trying to paint another as unfit. Dressing appropriately and following courtroom etiquette can also be an important element of making a good impression on the judge.

A parent who has visitation rights should take full advantage of those rights and spend time with the child doing ordinary things, such as homework. Turning up late for dropoffs and pickups or regularly rescheduling visitation can make a parent seem careless. Regardless of the relationship between parents, they should avoid saying negative things about one another in front of their children, involving the children or fabricating stories in court. Parents should also avoid drug or alcohol abuse and comply with any requests made by the court.

Not all child custody cases must end up in litigation. Parents may be able to negotiate an agreement with their attorneys that is in the best interests of the child, the same standard the court uses. There are a number of different arrangements that parents may pursue, and a parent who has visitation time but not custody may still have a significant amount of time with the child. Child custody arrangements may also be modified as situations change.

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