Preparing for a Child Custody Hearing

Attending your first child custody hearing can be intimidating, especially when you don't know what to expect. Beyond making a parenting plan (which should include a custody schedule), many parents don't know what to do. Here's how else you can prepare for that important day.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Make My Parenting Plan Now

Get familiar with the law

Learn as much as you can about child custody laws in your location so you'll understand what's happening. It will also help you when preparing a parenting plan because you'll have a sense of what the judge will expect to see.

Gather evidence

Your lawyer can help you determine what would be the best child custody evidence to bring with you. Common items include a parenting journal, your children's medical documents, and statements from witnesses such as teachers or doctors.

Polish your appearance and etiquette

Practice delivering short but complete answers to questions. Make sure you are neatly groomed and that your clothes make you look like you're taking the case seriously. Wear clothing you would to a job interview or business meeting. Above all, keep your emotions under control and act respectfully.

Know what to expect

When you understand the process of a custody hearing, you'll feel more confident. Courtrooms are usually smaller than people expect and hearings are fairly short. During a hearing, the judge may ask you, the other parent, the lawyers and any witnesses to speak. The judge will render a decision based on the children's best interests.

Staying organized

The process of deciding custody requires serious organization. You may need to create a parenting plan, draft multiple custody schedules, calculate expenses and beyond.

The Custody X Change online app enables you to do all of that in one place.

With a parenting plan template, customizable custody calendars, an expense tracker and more, Custody X Change makes sure you're prepared for whatever arises in your journey to child custody.

Take advantage of our technology to stay on top of all the moving parts of your case.

Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.

Make My Parenting Plan Now

Explore examples of common schedules

Explore common schedules

Join the 60,000+ other parents who have used our co-parenting tools

Organize your evidence

Track your expenses, journal what happens, and record actual time. Print organized, professional documents.

Co-parent civilly

Our parent-to-parent messaging system, which detects hostile language, lets you collaborate without the drama.

Get an accurate child support order

Child support is based on parenting time or overnights in most jurisdictions. Calculate time instead of estimating.

Succeed by negotiating

Explore options together with visual calendars and detailed parenting plans. Present alternatives and reach agreement.

Never forget an exchange or activity

Get push notifications and email reminders, sync with other calendar apps and share with the other parent.

Save up to $50,000 by avoiding court

Write your parenting agreement without lawyers. Our templates walk you through each step.

Make My Plan



Long distance schedules

Third party schedules


Summer break

Parenting provisions


How to make a schedule

Factors to consider

Parenting plans:

Making a parenting plan

Changing your plan

Interstate, long distance

Temporary plans

Guides by location:

Parenting plans

Scheduling guidelines

Child support calculators

Age guidelines:

Birth to 18 months

18 months to 3 years

3 to 5 years

5 to 13 years

13 to 18 years


Joint physical custody

Sole physical custody

Joint legal custody

Sole legal custody

Product features:

Software overview

Printable calendars

Parenting plan templates

Journal what happens

Expense sharing

Parenting time tracking

Calculate time & overnights

Ways to use:

Succeed by negotiating

Prepare for mediation

Get ready for court


Bring calm to co‑parenting. Agree on a schedule and plan. Be prepared with everything documented.

Make My Parenting Plan Now

No thanks, I don't need a parenting plan