Although many custody hearings are resolved with agreements outside of court, it is possible that you and the child’s other parent are unable to come to an agreement. This will require a court hearing in Wisconsin, something that may be frightening and confusing. These steps can help you prepare for the hearing and present a better case regarding custody.
Understand state custody laws
There are many layers to child custody. The courts will determine legal custody, which is the rights and responsibilities of each parent to make major decisions regarding your child. This includes where they go to school, health care decisions, religion and more. The courts will further break this down into joint legal or sole legal custody. In joint legal custody, you and your ex-spouse share decision-making while sole legal custody means one parent makes all those decisions.
Physical custody is also decided at the hearing. This determines where a child lives. Joint physical custody has the child residing with each parent for periods of time while sole physical custody has the child residing the majority of the time with one parent, but the person without physical custody will receive visitation.
Commit to the best interest of the child
The law sets out factors that a judge must consider when they make a decision related to child custody. The factors that will be used to determine what is in the best interest of the child include anything that will impact the life of the child, from others who will live in the household with the child to the mental and physical health of those living in the household, lifestyle changes a parent is willing to make and other factors that could have bearing on child custody.
Your attorney will provide you with details on the documents you will need in court. Be sure you have all the correct documents and have them organized so that they are easy to locate should the judge request them. This may include photos, phone logs, detailed visitation information, child support payment proof and other notes. Your attorney should also provide you with information on courtroom etiquette as this can have an impact on your child custody hearing. Emotional outbursts, unverified accusations and anger toward your child’s other parent will more than likely not be tolerated by the judge.
Discuss the process of the hearing with your attorney and be sure to dress appropriately in order to make a good impression on the judge who will decide your case. Having an attorney with you when you go before a judge may help ensure that your rights and your child’s rights are protected.