Preparing for Child Custody Court
If you and your child's other parent are unable to come to an agreement about your custody arrangements, you must go to court and a judge will decide the arrangements.
You will go to the county or district branch of your state court (where you filed for divorce) and a judge will hear both parents' wishes regarding custody. The judge will then determine the custody agreement and parenting plan.
If you and the other parent agree on your custody arrangements, you will go to court to submit your agreement to make it official.
You need to show the court your proposed parenting plan and custody agreement and explain why your plan is in the best interest of your child.
You plan should include information about:
- Where your child will live
- When your child will spend time with each parent
- How you will make decisions for your child
- The responsibilities of each parent toward the child
- How you and the other parent will continue to care for and raise your child
You can use Custody X Change to help you prepare and present a plan in court. Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans. Use the free download to see how it can help you.
You can use Custody X Change to:
- Prepare an agreement with a complete custody schedule, parenting provisions, information about legal custody, and extra information for your case
- Organize your information by putting everything you want in your plan and having a clear outline to follow in court
- Explain your plan using the professional documents from the software
The documents from Custody X Change let you:
- Show the court a visual calendar with each parent's time clearly marked
- Explain your parenting time schedule using a report that shows the breakdown of the timeshare percentage of each parent
- Use the report of your entire plan to help the judge see how it benefits your child
- Give copies of your plan to the other parent and the judge while you present
Your attorney will show the court your custody plan, but you will need to work with your attorney to create your parenting plan.
Since you are the one who knows your custody situation the best, you need to communicate your needs to your attorney and show your ideas for your plan. This can help your attorney make and present the best plan to the court.
Custody X Change can help you work with your attorney to prepare for court.
With Custody X Change, you can:
- Show your attorney your ideas for parenting time schedules
- Think through the terms and conditions of your agreement so that you don't leave any important information out
- Explain to your attorney the type of plan that you want so that your attorney can explain it to the court
- Save money in legal fees by doing some of the work on your agreement and giving it to your lawyer (instead of having your lawyer draft the agreement, you can make it on your own)
- Track a plan that is already in place so you can see how well it is being followed
- Document how a plan isn't being followed and give the reports to your attorney so you can get an agreement modified or changed
If you and the other parent work together to make your custody agreement you will only go to court to get it approved by the judge.
You may need to have an informal meeting with the judge and the judge may ask a few questions to make sure that each parent knows what is going on with the agreement. As long as the judge sees the agreement as being in the best interest of the child, the court will usually approve it.
To find help to prepare for custody court you can contact your courthouse. Sometimes there are resources to help you get ready for court.
You can also hire an attorney to help you with court.
If you want to try and resolve your custody issues out of court, you can seek out alternative dispute resolution. Alternative dispute resolution is usually custody mediation or collaborative family law.
You can look online for information and resource, and you can use child custody software to prepare for court or to prepare for mediation.
If you want to avoid a custody battle in court, you can work together with your child's other parent to create your parenting plan. Most parents are able to reach an agreement without going to court.
Here are some options for working together before going to court:
- Negotiating informally with the other parent (with or without attorneys) to create a custody plan that both parents support
- Going to mediation and working with a mediator to make your agreement
- Using Custody X Change to negotiate and work with the other parent on your plan
- Using court offered mediation or resources to create your agreement
Some states require that parents try mediation before going to court. Check the options in your state and learn your state laws so you know if that applies to your case.
This depends on your situation. Before you hire an attorney you can try to negotiate with the other parent informally or through mediation. If that is unsuccessful, you may need to hire an attorney.
You may also need an attorney if your case is high conflict or if there has been dishonesty or illegal actions from the other parent.