Perhaps you and your co-parent haven’t been able to reach a child custody agreement on your own, with your attorneys’ help. Maybe you want to modify the agreement you already have, but your co-parent is fighting it (or vice versa). Whatever the situation, you’ve got a court date for a child custody hearing.
Understandably, this is likely one of the most stressful periods of your life. However, you can’t let that impact your behavior in court. How you treat the judge, your ex and everyone else in the courtroom could impact whether the judge rules in your favor or not.
You don’t convince a judge how much you care about your children or the issue at hand by engaging in emotional outbursts. They just show that you can’t control your feelings and that you don’t respect the proceedings. Both could lead the judge to side with your co-parent.
Leave the talking to your attorney. Never directly ask a judge a question or assert an opinion. If the judge asks you a question, answer it simply and directly. Don’t add more information. Your attorney will probably review with you the questions you’re likely to be asked so that you can prepare clear and concise answers. If you’re caught off guard by a question or statement by the judge or anyone else, consult with your attorney before responding.
In addition to behaving appropriately, it’s essential to dress appropriately. If you don’t have a closet full of Brooks Brothers suits to choose from, that’s fine. However, you should dress conservatively. A suit is good, if you have one. Men should at least wear long-sleeved shirts. If you’re a woman, wear closed-toe shoes. Your attorney may advise you to cover any tattoos and leave the extra rings off your ears, nose and other parts of your face.
It’s only natural to be nervous about a child custody hearing. There’s a lot riding on it. Trust your Arizona family law attorney’s advice and follow it.