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What happens during child custody proceedings

35161724_S.jpgParents in Missouri who must go through child custody proceedings might wonder what to expect. The courtroom for a child custody hearing is usually smaller than other types of courtrooms, and fewer people will be present. It is important for parents to dress appropriately for a court appearance.

Parents should also prepare for questions such as what kind of living arrangements are in place for the child and what kind of emotional support the parent can offer. An attorney can help a parent with this preparation. A judge makes the decision about child custody based on the best interests of the child, so there may be additional questions related to the child's well-being. For example, a judge may ask a working parent about child care arrangements when the child is not in school or may ask about sleeping arrangements if the parent lives in a small apartment.

Child care providers, teachers and others who know the parent and child can testify on a parent's behalf. Parents may also testify along with children who are old enough to participate. The judge will then make a decision. This decision will include choosing the custodial parent and creating a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent that includes holidays.

These types of proceedings will not be necessary if parents can agree on a plan for child custody. They may agree to share custody, or they might agree that one should be the custodial parent. One advantage of working on a plan outside of court, which can be done with the assistance of an attorney, is that parents can create on that is flexible and unique based on their circumstances. The agreement can then be made legally binding. This might protect both parents and children if one parent does not follow the terms of the agreement.

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