Child Custody Hearings in Pennsylvania: It’s Not About Who Wins or Loses
June 19, 2020
Some couples have so little conflict related to the terms of their separation that they can have an uncontested divorce; they simply agree about how to divide their assets and submit their requests to the court, and the court dissolves the marriage according to the parties’ requests. Most couples who are able to do this do not have minor children. Most couples who get divorced while their children are still living at home need outside help to reach an agreement about parenting time, whether through mediation or a child custody hearing. If you are having a child custody hearing, the family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh can help you get a favorable outcome.
How to Make a Good Impression
At a child custody hearing, professionalism is key. These are some things you can do to send the message that you are a responsible parent and are serious about acting in your children’s best interest:
Dress professionally, as if you were going to a job interview
Bring documentation to support your claims, such as reports from your children’s teachers, financial records, or documentation from your employer about your work schedule and job duties, even emails or text messages exchanged with your ex-spouse, anything that will show that you have been consistent and trustworthy and that your children are doing well in your care
Have your lawyer attend the hearing with you and answer the most challenging questions on your behalf
50/50 Parenting Time Is the Ideal
Remember that you can’t really win or lose a custody hearing; parenting time is not a zero-sum game. No matter how many days of parenting time the court awards you, you are one of only two legal parents your children have. The family courts assume that children benefit the most when they have a stable, reliable relationship with both parents. If you encourage your ex-spouse to have a good relationship with your children, this can only make you more credible in the eyes of the court. If the court awards the parents a roughly equal number of days (or, in the case of school-aged children, a roughly equal number of non-school days), then everyone wins.
Unless you have serious concerns that your children are unsafe when they are with your ex, do not try to convince the court that your ex is a bad parent. Don’t try to vilify your ex over minor mistakes (such as picking up the children from your house 15 minutes late or failing to send your child’s sunglasses in her backpack when she returned to your house) or irrelevant issues (such as the fact that your ex is engaged to be remarried or doesn’t allow your child to say the word “stupid”) will only make you look petty. The judge already knows that you care about your children; don’t mess it up by making a big deal out of minor problems.
Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps You Shine at Your Custody Hearing
Child custody hearings are intimidating for parents, but they are business as usual for family law attorneys. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA for help preparing for a child custody hearing. 🡺 412-419-3448