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Practical Steps to Take and Tactics to Employ to Prepare for a New Jersey Child Custody Hearing

If child custody is an issue in your New Jersey divorce case, there are some tips and tactics to bear in mind when it comes to preparing for a New Jersey child custody hearing. We discuss some of the fundamental steps and tactics to employ when preparing for a court proceeding of this type.

Before diving into a full discussion of preparing for a New Jersey child custody hearing, we take a moment to consider the best interests of a child standard. This standard is what is used when making decisions regarding child custody and parenting time in a marriage dissolution proceeding.

The best interests of a child standard is defined as:

The "best interest of the child" standard is a legal principle used in family law to decide custody and visitation rights. It considers various factors with the paramount consideration being the child's physical, emotional, and educational welfare. Examples of factors considered by the court when applying the best interests of a child standard include:

Understand the Law

Begin by dedicating ample time to understanding the New Jersey child custody laws. Thoroughly read and research these laws to grasp how they apply to your particular situation. The more familiar you are with these laws, the better equipped you will be to confront any legal challenges that may crop up during the hearing. This understanding will also help you build a strong argument for your case.

Gather Evidence

The next step is to gather and compile all possible documents, photos, correspondence, and any other evidence that bolsters your case. This might include emails, text messages, school records, medical records, or any other documents that can unequivocally show your involvement and suitability as a parent. The stronger your evidence, the more compelling your case will be.

Know Your Child's Needs

Spend significant time understanding your child's needs. This includes their physical, emotional, and educational needs. Be prepared to demonstrate how you, as their primary caregiver, can meet these needs effectively and consistently. This will show the court that the child's best interests are at the forefront of your concerns.

Prepare Your Testimony

Carefully plan your testimony. Consider what you want to communicate in court and how you intend to articulate it. Focus your testimony on presenting facts that demonstrate your ability to provide a stable, loving, and nurturing environment for your child. Practice your testimony repeatedly to ensure you deliver it confidently and effectively, leaving no room for misunderstandings.

Get Legal Advice

If you're not already represented by a lawyer, strongly consider consulting with a family law attorney. They can provide invaluable guidance, clarify the legal process for you, and represent your interests in court. Their expertise can be crucial in navigating the oftentimes complex legal landscape of child custody hearings.

Attend Parenting Classes

When possible, attend parenting classes. These classes can equip you with practical advice on how to handle parenting challenges and demonstrate your commitment to being the best parent you can be. Judges often view parents who take proactive steps to improve their parenting skills in a positive light, which could tilt the balance in your favor.

Stay Calm and Respectful

It's of utmost importance to remain calm and respectful throughout the hearing. Your demeanor can significantly influence the judge's opinion of you. Avoid any negative or confrontational behavior that could cast you in a poor light and negatively impact the judge's decision.

Prepare for Cross-Examination

Prepare yourself to answer potentially challenging questions from the other parent's attorney. Keep your focus on the facts and avoid succumbing to emotional responses. If you anticipate difficult or uncomfortable questions, prepare responses in advance so you are not caught off guard in court, ensuring a smooth and composed testimony.

Follow Court Procedures

Make it a point to familiarize yourself with the court procedures and ensure you follow them to the letter. This includes filing all necessary paperwork on time, showing up punctually for all court dates, and adhering to all court orders. Demonstrating due respect for the court and its procedures can only help your case and show your seriousness about the process.

In the final analysis, following these suggestions or tips will place you in the best possible position to best make your case during a New Jersey child custody hearing.

If you have any questions concerning a NJ child custody matter, call (201) 845-7400 for a free consultation.

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances