Preparing for a Child Custody Hearing in Bergen County
Anxieties commonly arise when someone on the other side of a courtroom challenges your ability to parent. Many parties to child custody battles fear that judges will believe information presented about them in a false light. You might even wonder if the courts truly have your children’s best interests at heart.
Preparing for a child custody hearing in Bergen County may seem overwhelming and you might struggle to understand what evidence to present and the legal standards applicable to custody disputes. Speaking with a qualified attorney could potentially alleviate these fears and help you fight for your parental rights.
What to Expect During a Bergen County Visitation Hearing
Child custody disputes ordinarily start when a child’s legal parents separate, divorce, or challenge the current custodial arrangement. Not every child custody hearing stems from parental disagreements. Even parents agreeing on a general custody arrangement must seek court approval, and foster parents adopting children face periodic custody challenges.
Knowledgeable Bergen County family judges conduct child custody hearings daily. They understand common fears and often recognize attempts to slander the other parent. During Bergen County child custody hearings, expect the court to focus on the children’s best interests, not the parents.
The court will generally start by hearing each party’s custody and visitation proposals and asking questions about how the proposed custody arrangement benefits the children. If necessary, each party’s attorney presents evidence and explains their reasoning. The judge may consider any best interest recommendations submitted by the children’s guardian ad litem or expert custody
Evaluator and will enter a custody order at the hearing or adjourn the matter for further review.
Legal Standards Governing Child Custody Decisions
New Jersey Stat. Code § 9: 2-4 governs child custody decisions in the state. New Jersey encourages joint custody, and judges must assume parents have equal rights. Courts should enter custody orders in accordance with a negotiated parenting agreement unless the proposed arrangement conflicts with the child’s best interests.
Custody orders may split physical and legal parenting responsibilities equally or develop another beneficial custodial arrangement between the parties. Judges must consider what the children truly need before entering a custody order, accounting for factors such as:
- The desires and wishes of the children
- Any allegations of domestic violence and abuse
- The children’s overall stability, including their schooling
- The relationships between the children, their parents, and any siblings
- The ability of the parents to communicate, agree, and encourage beneficial parental relationships
- Any special needs of the child
- The parents’ ability to care for the children
Judges may appoint a guardian ad litem to prepare a best interest report for a child custody hearing.
Gathering Evidence for Bergen County Child Custody Hearings
Reviewing the best interest factors outlined in state law may help Bergen County parents prepare for child custody hearings. Judges must consider every relevant provision listed, so gathering evidence of each may help the court during visitation proceedings. With the assistance of legal counsel, parents might submit text messages, emails, videos, photographs, affidavits, school reports, letters, medical records, and testimonial evidence related to each issue before the court.
Judges may also examine any other factors deemed relevant to the custody dispute. These factors often include a child’s relationship with a step-parent, any unique talents and friendships essential to the child, and the overall ties between children and their community.
Prepare for a Child Hearing with a Compassionate Lawyer
Courts prioritize settling children down after a tumultuous period in their lives. However, child custody matters take time because of the vast legal and emotional implications. Judges often enter detailed and considerate orders to avoid future custody challenges.
You can speak with a qualified family lawyer today if you need help preparing for a child custody hearing in Bergen County. Legal professionals and child advocates could help you analyze the best interest factors and organize evidence to support your child custody proposal. Call right away to get started.