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What parents can expect during child custody proceedings

Any parent with children going through a divorce in Texas may have understandable concerns when the court has to make important custody decisions. While there is no way to know the outcome of such proceedings with absolute certainty, parents may be able to reduce their anxiety by taking steps to be as prepared as possible when a custody hearing is scheduled. This generally means having solid arguments lined up, bringing the right representation and supporting witnesses, and looking and acting like a responsible adult.

With arguments in a child custody case, a judge usually wants to know such things as what living and education arrangements will be for the child and whether a parent seeking custody is prepared emotionally and financially to provide suitable care. Parents should prepare to respond to possible counter-arguments an ex-spouse may make, such as questioning where the child would stay after school if the custody-seeking parent works full-time.

Parents are often advised to dress appropriately and be respectful, even if the other party is confrontational. Testimonies during a custody hearing usually involve both parents and witnesses such as parents' co-workers or friends, babysitters, school officials and social workers. The child may testify as well, provided he or she is old enough or capable of discussing preferences. The court's decision typically includes a determination of who the custodial parent will be and an appropriate visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent.

It's also possible for a family law attorney to play a role in negotiating a child custody agreement between both parents outside of court. Some parents prefer to opt for joint custody, a process that involves working out a mutually acceptable custody schedule. It's when parents are unable to come to a reasonable agreement with custody arrangements that a court steps in to make decisions. A lawyer may help with this part of the process by helping a client prepare for the hearing.

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