Some parents in California who are going into a child custody hearing might wonder what they should expect and how they should prepare. The courtrooms where child custody hearings are held are generally smaller than other courtrooms, and only a few people are present. The hearings also tend to be short, so people should be prepared to present their case efficiently.
People should dress conservatively for these types of hearings. An attorney may be able to help someone prepare. Individuals should be ready to answer questions about providing emotional support for their children and ensuring that the kids have adequate living conditions, including a place to sleep. Parents can bring along people, such as teachers and child care providers, who can testify on their behalf.
In addition, both parents may testify as well as any children who are considered old enough to participate in the decision. Once these testimonies are over, parents can usually expect to get a decision from the judge immediately. The judge will try to determine what is in the child's best interests and make a decision based on that criterion. This decision may include choosing a custodial parent and a visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. This schedule should include where the child will spend holidays.
Not every divorce requires a hearing where a judge makes a decision about child custody. In fact, there are several other variables that may be introduced. In some cases, parents might be able to negotiate a child custody agreement. Some may want to share custody, which would allow each of them roughly equal time with the child. There might also be situations in which one parent does not want the other person to have visitation rights at all because of issues such as abuse or addiction.