In a perfect world, separated Virginia parents would agree on a custody arrangement, and that arrangement would always work smoothly. However, things rarely, if ever, work out this way.
The reality is, even if you and your co-parent put forth good faith efforts to resolve your custody dispute, sometimes you cannot reach an agreement. Suddenly, you find that you’re going to a custody hearing, where a judge will make the custody decisions, and you may have no idea what to expect.
Know the law
Preparation is key when it comes to increasing your chance of success at a custody hearing. One of the best ways to prepare is to learn about Virginia’s custody laws. Each state’s custody laws are different, so becoming familiar with the details of Virginia’s law is a must. An attorney knowledgeable on Virginia custody laws can be a great resource.
Virginia courts base custody decisions on a set of several factors, typically centering around what is in a child’s best interest. A judge uses evidence to decide which parent each factor favors.
Evidence includes things such as testimony or documentation. For example, if you want your child to attend a certain school, you may want to provide documentation showing what makes it a good school.
Know how to act in court
On the day of the hearing, dress appropriately for court. Avoid shirts with controversial statements or slogans and wear something conservative. Act properly in the courtroom. Treat your co-parent with respect and avoid being confrontational or causing a scene. These may seem like minor things, but the impression you make in court counts more than you may realize.
Know what to expect at the custody hearing itself. Custody hearings are usually not drama-filled battles as depicted on television, but calm and orderly proceedings.
These are general tips that can be applied to any situation. However, all custody cases are different, because no two parents’ situations are the same. Along with advising you on Virginia custody law, an experienced custody attorney can make sure you are thoroughly prepared for your hearing.