A child custody hearing occurs if parents cannot agree on their own or through mediation.

A judge oversees the custody hearing and makes the decisions after hearing all the evidence. This is a formal proceeding. So rules of evidence apply, and witnesses will be sworn in. There will be a court reporter to transcribe and record it in case of an appeal.

Before the hearing, discuss potential witnesses you may call with your lawyer. Your lawyer will likely talk to potential witnesses before the hearing to help them prepare for their testimony.

On the day

You’ll want to appear on time (ideally early) for your hearing, and dress as you would for an important interview.

You’ll want to be ready to answer questions on topics like:

  • What you want the custody schedule to be, and why that schedule is in your child’s best interest
  • Your financial status
  • Your personal life, including any significant others
  • Quality and frequency of communication with your child’s other parent

Additionally, try to communicate professionally and civilly with your child’s other parent in court and everyday correspondences. Avoid making rude comments, name-calling, or engaging in argumentative exchanges, especially in writing. Those interactions can become evidence at the court hearing.

Browse more family law articles.