Do you have to attend court for a child custody hearing but do not know what to expect? Here is what to know before the court date.
The Plaintiff Always Goes First
If you are the person that initiated the divorce, then you are considered the plaintiff in the case and you will be the one that makes that argument first. You will be giving the opening arguments before your spouse is able to, and you'll be the first one to call any witness to help defend your desire to have child custody.
Your Witnesses Help Build Up Your Case
Many lawyers put a lot of thought into the order the witnesses are called since you want to build up a case about why you would be the right parent to receive child custody. This may involve creating a narrative and talking to friends and relatives about different aspects of your child's life and giving examples about how you currently provide care. You will want to show examples of where you are the better parent in places where your spouse is not, which helps strengthen your case as the parent fit to receive custody.
You Can Be Cross-Examined If You Testify
Many parents decide to call on themselves as a witness so that they can speak their desires about why they want child custody. However, you need to understand that you can then be cross-examined by your spouse's lawyer. This is where they are allowed to follow up on anything that you said by asking additional questions. Once they are done with cross-examination, your lawyer will perform redirect examination, which is when they are allowed to ask follow-up questions to clarify anything that was said during your cross-examination.
You May Be Asked To Give Closing Arguments
Closing arguments are not always necessary during a custody hearing, but a judge may decide that they want you to give a closing argument. Once again, the plaintiff will be the one that goes first with their closing argument, while the defendant goes second.
You Can Challenge The Child Custody Decision
If you do not agree with the final ruling by the judge or jury, you do have the right to appeal the decision. Your lawyer will let you know how likely it is that you will win your appeal based on how the case went and give you a recommendation about moving forward with additional legal proceedings.
To learn more, contact a divorce custody lawyer.