Parents in Pennsylvania who are approaching child custody proceedings often have questions about what to expect. While every case is unique and varies based on its own specific facts, there are certain things that can be anticipated to help parents prepare for hearings. It is important to arrive at hearings in as prepared and composed a state as possible. This means preparing arguments, preparing answers to likely questions and bringing the right people along to the hearings.
For people who have hired lawyers to help with their custody battles, the lawyers will help develop and prepare arguments for the hearings. This might include being able to establish suitable living conditions for the child and evidence of the ability to provide a stable home with adequate emotional support.
The judge is likely to ask questions based on the information he or she receives from the parents. For example, if a parent has a full-time job, the family court judge may ask about plans for the child after school each day. If the parent lives in a small apartment, the judge may want the parent to account for where the child will sleep. In many cases, it's a good idea to bring people like teachers or babysitters to the hearing if they can support claims of parenting ability.
Because the family court is likely to have a number of hearings that day, parents should expect theirs to be brief. Typically, the parents and witnesses will speak during the hearing. The child may also speak if he or she is old enough to make an informed custody decision.
A lawyer with experience practicing family law may be able to help parents prepare for child custody proceedings by laying out likely areas of questioning by the judge or by developing arguments with the parent's assistance. A lawyer might present evidence of the parent's fitness or argue on the parent's behalf during legal proceedings.