For parents in New Jersey, being involved in child custody disputes can be emotionally overwhelming. When individuals cannot come to an agreement about custody on their own, their cases will be litigated in court at a custody trial. Custody matters are decided by judges and are not held in front of juries. Preparing for a child custody hearing is critical for increasing the likelihood of securing a better outcome.
Be aware of judges’ top priority
The children’s best interests are the top factor New Jersey family law judges consider when making decisions about child custody. They consider several other elements when making their decisions, including such issues as the child’s relationship with each parent and other household members, his or her adjustment to the community and school, any history of substance abuse or domestic violence, the mental and physical health of each party, and others. Understanding what factors the courts consider when determining how to order child custody can help parents know what to expect and prepare accordingly.
Appearing in court
Making a good impression in court is important in child custody cases. People should dress professionally and make sure to arrive on time. They should also bring documents and evidence to admit during the hearing. Individuals should listen carefully to the questions they are asked and avoid interrupting or becoming angry. Discussing courtroom etiquette in advance of the hearing and how a hearing typically works is a good idea. People may try role-playing, so they understand how to respond appropriately and things to avoid doing in court.
Preparing a child custody case for a hearing may require careful investigation, evidence-gathering, and learning how to admit the evidence. Both parents will have the right to call relevant witnesses and to cross-examine any witnesses called to testify on behalf of the other party. Being respectful when appearing in court can go a long way toward helping secure a more favorable outcome. However, people should also be prepared to receive an order with which they may not fully agree when they leave child custody decisions up to a judge.