How parents should navigate a child custody hearing

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, May 10, 2017.

There are a number of mistakes that Illinois parents might make in a child custody hearing that could jeopardize their chances of getting custody. Displaying anger or bitterness toward the other parent could make a poor impression on a judge if it implies that the parent is unlikely to be cooperative. Friends and family members may also try to be helpful by suggesting that a parent ask for more support or time with the child, but parents should not allow themselves to be pressured. Furthermore, they should not change strategies without discussing it with their attorney first.

Parents should also avoid speaking for their child or implying that the child is better off with them. As with the other errors, this could end up having the opposite of its intended effect. If an older child wishes to speak in court, this is usually permitted.

Parents should come to court prepared. Even when they have retained an attorney, they should understand custody law and what kind of paperwork is due when. A parent should not discuss their court strategy with the other parent or even with friends because it could get back to the other parent.

Once a judge hears the facts of a case, a decision about custody is made based on the best interests of the child. This means that the convenience and preference of the parents may be secondary to what will provide the most stability and the best environment for the child. In some cases, the decision might even be contrary to the child’s wishes since a judge will be aware that a child will sometimes prefer to live with a more lenient parent. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the court usually attempts to ensure that a child is able to maintain a relationship with both parents through visitation or joint physical custody.

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