If you and your spouse or partner have come to the end of your relationship, your focus may be on arriving at child custody decisions that will most benefit your child. If you are unable to resolve these issues peacefully, you will want to ensure the court grants you a custody order that is fair and balanced. Perhaps you worry that your partner has an advantage over you, or you may feel that it is not in the best interests of the child if your ex gets custody.
No matter your reasons for bringing the issues to court instead of working it out with your partner, you will need to make a good impression to reach a positive outcome. Obviously, the judge can’t spend much time with you or observe you with the children, so your deportment and behavior before and during your hearing can carry a great deal of influence.
The details count
Even if you are hoping to obtain full custody of your child, it is important to demonstrate that you are willing to work with your ex for the good of the child. It is common for courts to agree that, in most cases, children are more likely to thrive when both parents take an active role in their lives. Refusing to cooperate or compromise with your ex may cause the court to suspect you do not have the child’s best interests at heart.
Other ways to present a good impression to a custody judge include the following:
- Learn as much as you can about custody laws in New Jersey.
- Spend as much time with your child as possible.
- Engage in your child’s everyday activities, like homework, chores and bedtime routines.
- Avoid skipping your visitation time, showing up late or rescheduling.
- Document interactions that demonstrate poor parenting on your ex’s part but remember that your ex may do the same.
- Consider requesting an in-home evaluation by a neutral party to offset any negative reports your ex may present.
- Avoid behaviors that may paint you in a poor light, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, making up negative details about your ex or badmouthing your ex in front of the children.
On the day of your trial, remember that the little details can be important, such as arriving on time and being clean, groomed and dressed appropriately. You will also want to be well-prepared with all your documentation in order and your witnesses ready. By remaining calm and responding to the judge respectfully, you may improve your chances of a positive outcome.