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Planning for a custody hearing: What will the judge want to know?

With all the press that friendly co-parents get these days, you may feel like the courts no longer hear child custody cases except in extreme circumstances. But that's not true: Texas courts still hear plenty of child custody cases every year.

You may feel out of place if your custody matter doesn't follow what some people perceive as the "norm" these days. You may need to understand that every divorce is different, and you may not yet be in a place where you can sit down with your future ex-spouse to make important decisions about your kids. It may help to relieve some of your stress if you have at least some idea of what the court will want to know at the hearing.

Why are you asking for this type of custody arrangement?

The court will want to know whether you are looking for joint custody or sole custody. Most couples end up with joint custody of their children. This may not be an equal split of parenting time, but it should be an equitable one. The courts tend to lean toward giving parents joint legal custody, in which both parents make major life decisions for the children.

If you wish to deviate from that default, the court will more than likely want to fully understand why before it makes a decision. This doesn't mean you won't prevail; it just means the court will attempt to decide what arrangement will protect the best interests of your children.

What other questions might the court ask?

The court may require detailed answers to the following questions:

  • Can you and the other parent communicate when it comes to the children? If so, how do you intend to do so?
  • What is your financial situation, and what monetary resources do you have? The court will want to know your capability to support the children and determine what amount of child support is a requirement.
  • Do you already have a custody plan in place? In most cases, the divorce takes place months after the parties separate, so the court will want to know how you and the other parent have been handling custody issues to this point.

The answers you provide to the court may determine the custody arrangement you will end up with after the hearing. You may want to make sure that you can provide the court with as many thorough and detailed answers as possible. Doing so could help ensure that you receive the custody arrangement that you want and, if applicable, the appropriate amount of child support.

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