Jaclyn M. Nichols Attorney at Law
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Custody can be decided by a judge in your case

In a divorce, one of the things that you need to think about is who should have custody of your children and when. If you and your spouse can determine how to set up visitation and custody yourselves, then your attorneys can submit any parenting plan you create to the courts for you. However, if you're unable to agree, you'll need to think about other options.

If you go to court over your custody arrangements, then a judge plays a role in what happens next. The judge considers the best interests of your child overall.

What does a judge want to see when you come to court for a custody case?

Initially, you'll want to present yourself in a respectful way. Come to court dressed to impress, and be ready to politely respond to the judge when they ask questions or speak with you. As a responsible parent, the judge wants to see you behave in a way that shows you're a good person to care for your child. What a judge won't want to see is a person who puts no effort into their appearance or who constantly interrupts or causes a scene. Essentially, show you're serious about the court date and be respectful of the judge.

You should also bring any documentation to support requests you're making. For instance, if you need to have your child from Monday to Friday because of being the closest to the school, then bring supporting documents to show why you're a good choice for that custody arrangement.

For example, if you're home but the other parent works, this is a positive for you. Similarly, if you can drive your child to school but the other parent would need to send your child via bus or would not be home for the school run in the morning, this could work in your favor.

Your judge will also talk to your child in some cases, particularly if your child is old enough to have their own preferences. The judge will consider what the child wants to do, but your child's wishes won't dictate the final custody arrangements.

It's better if you and your spouse or ex-spouse can come up with a plan that works for you and your child or children. If not, the judge is always there to create a parenting plan for you. Keep in mind that this plan may not be what you expect.

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