If you are heading to court to determine child custody in your divorce case, you are walking into the unknown. The court is charged with doing what is in the best interest of the children in each individual case. The judge, however, does not and cannot know your children the way you do, and his or her judgment may not coincide with what you know to be in your children's best interests.
Nevertheless, there are steps that you can take to help ensure that your concerns are heard and are taken seriously. Issues related to child custody are the most important element of every divorce involving children. If you and your divorcing spouse have not been able to hammer out child custody arrangements that are mutually acceptable, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Central Texas family law attorney.
Preparation is Critical
You are going to court to obtain child custody arrangements that best support you and your children, and it is one of the most important hurdles that you will ever have to face. While you cannot control what the judge will ultimately decide, you can help your case by being prepared. Work closely with your family law attorney in preparation of your strongest case. You are an excellent parent, and with careful documentation, you will be able to demonstrate this fact to the court.
Proceed with Purpose
If there is a temporary custody order in place already, adhere to it carefully. Never take custody orders for granted, and always follow such orders to the letter. Every step you take in the process – good or bad – can be scrutinized when you come before the court:
If you are scheduled to pick up the children (or have the children dropped off with you), be there on time – every time.
If you do need to alter the schedule, arrange the change with your spouse and document the exchange in writing.
If your spouse is keeping the children from you during your scheduled time, show up on time to pick them up anyway and document your efforts by contacting the authorities. The court does not appreciate parents who disrespect court orders.
If the court tasks you with parenting classes or with anything else, take it seriously and fulfill your obligation with dispatch.
Work as closely and cooperatively with your divorcing spouse as you possibly can. The court appreciates sincere effort.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Be prepared for the arrival of your court date. Arrive at the courtroom at least 15 minutes early, looking well-groomed and wearing a conservative yet comfortable outfit. Bring all necessary documentation – organized in an easily accessible manner – with you. Finally, address the court with the respect it is due.