What Can I Expect During a Child Custody Court Hearing?

What Can I Expect During a Child Custody Court Hearing?

Facing a child custody hearing in California can be nerve-wracking and worrisome. However, fear of the unknown is what generates the most anxiety. Certified Family Law Specialist Judy L. Burger has helped numerous clients prepare for child custody hearings. Every client gets her personal attention and the benefit of her expertise.

The Law Offices of Judy L. Burger reviews what you can expect during a child custody court hearing and how we can help you.

The Typical Child Custody Hearing

Every child custody hearing is different due to the individuals and circumstances involved. However, each follows a similar format. Here is what you can expect.

The Setting

Your child custody court hearing will be held in a courtroom and presided over by a family law judge. Both parents and their legal representatives may be present. Family witnesses, expert witnesses, teachers, therapists, and other specialists may also be present and submit evidence to the court.

The Judge

The judge is a duly appointed legal arbiter with significant training and background in family law matters. His or her role is to decide what is in the best interests of the child or children in question. They will weigh all the evidence presented before making any official rulings. The judge may also ask you and your spouse questions and may speak with your child privately I order to obtain as much information as possible for making the best decision.

Presenting Evidence

Your attorney will help you collect and prepare evidence and your own testimony supporting your case. Each parent will have the opportunity to present evidence for consideration. This can include witness testimony, specialist testimony, medical records, financial records, school records, audio recordings, video, and more. Your attorney will also help you prepare to answer questions about your evidence and testimony from the judge and on cross-examination.

Cross-Examination and Rebuttals

Each parent or their attorney is given the chance to cross-examine the other parent’s witnesses and evidence. At this point, you may challenge any claims or evidence and provide support to refute those claims. A Family Law Attorney like Judy Burger knows how to make sure your rights are protected and the other parties follow the letter of the law in all areas. She can also provide strong rebuttals when necessary.

Possible Child Custody Hearing Outcomes  

After gleaning every bit of evidence and testimony possible from all parties, the judge will issue a ruling granting orders and permissions that govern both parents’ future actions. Here are some possible outcomes:

Child Custody

The judge will grant custody rights to the parents.

  • Sole Custody: This parent has legal and physical custody of the child or children.
  • Joint Custody: In this case, both parents share legal and physical custody of the child or children. This requires an approved parenting plan outlining each parent’s responsibilities.

Visitation Rights

If one parent is granted sole custody, the other parent may be granted visitation rights. The judge will decide the visitation schedule based on what is in the best interest of the child.

Support Agreements

The judge may also order a support agreement in which both parents share the responsibility for meeting their children’s needs.

Existing Child Custody Arrangement Modifications

If an existing custody arrangement is in place, either parent may request a modification if circumstances have significantly changed. The judge will consider the request and decide based on what is in the child’s best interest.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

Attorney Judy Burger knows family law in California and how to pursue the best custody and support arrangements for your case. She can help you understand and prepare for the custody hearing process, collect evidence, prepare you for testimony, prepare for expected challenges during the hearing, construct a parenting plan, and further advocate for your interests.

When you’re facing a child custody hearing, contact the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger in California for seasoned expertise.