Negotiating child custody can be one of the most difficult aspects of a divorce. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of one or both parents to reach a decision without going to court, a custody hearing ends up being necessary. If you are a Colorado parent in this situation, there are certain things you can do to prepare for the hearing.
Know state law
First, it is important to understand the laws in your jurisdiction since they may differ from place to place. In Colorado, courts start with the assumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both parents. While some people may worry that a court will show preference to a mother over a father, the judge does not begin from the assumption that either parent should have an advantage over the other.
An important part of preparation is knowing what is appropriate in this type of setting. For example, you should dress neatly and remain calm even though this can be a trying, emotional process. The good news is that a child custody hearing is generally not set up to be adversarial in nature and does not involve a jury. The judge is trying to reach a decision that will be in the child’s best interests, and an atmosphere that is full of conflict does not contribute to this.
Depending on your particular situation, there are certain documents you may need to bring to the child custody hearing. For example, if you are trying to demonstrate your involvement in the child’s life, this might include documentation of going to parent-teacher meetings or taking the child to medical appointments.
No parent wants to end up in court arguing over child custody issues. However, by focusing on what is best for the child, it may be possible to reach a resolution that satisfies both parents. Parents should thoroughly understand what the hearing will involve and what will be expected of them so that they can prepare adequately.