How courtroom actions affect custody battles

When it comes to the custody of your children, the family court judge presiding over your case often has little information on which to base this all-important decision. That's why the actions you take in court can make or break your custody case.

Learn how to avoid making a bad impression in the Orange County courtroom when you appear for your child custody hearing.

Put your best foot forward

The judge has to make many snap judgments in custody cases every day, so you always want to present the best version of yourself that's possible.

That means is that you need to dress for success, arrive on time and be unfailingly polite while in court.

Don't be unyielding

If the judge senses that your streak of obstinacy will preclude a workable shared parenting agreement, he or she may award custody to your ex. Presenting yourself as a parent who is willing to work together with your ex for the best interests of the children can give you an edge.

Be proactive about parenting

Don't be lax about exercising your parental rights. Make sure that you spend as much time as possible with the kids. Show how you go over their homework and shuttle them to orthodontics appointments and not just outings to amusement parks and beach trips.

Another suggestion is to have your family law attorney ask the court to order an in-home custody evaluation by a neutral third party. When you have concerns that your ex may try to paint a negative picture of your life with the kids, an independent evaluation can refocus the court on your excellent parenting.

Learn about California custody laws

Make sure that you have a good grasp about the custody laws of the state of California and that all decisions must be made with the best interests of the children foremost in both parents' minds.

Document any parenting lapses of your ex

Remember that if it can't be substantiated, it's likely to be inadmissible. If your ex was abusive, pull out the police reports. If your ex's drugging or drinking put the kids at risk, have witnesses testify to same. If your ex is always late for custody exchanges, this also needs to be backed up by a paper trail of documentation.

Taking the time to make a good impression can make or break a winning custody case.

Source: The Spruce, "Dos and Don'ts for Winning Child Custody," Jennifer Wolf, April 05, 2018

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