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What do you need to know about a custody hearing?

Child custody hearings are an important part of your custody case. It gives a judge time to hear what both parents want to do and to determine what he or she thinks is in the best interest of the child. This hearing can solidify your parenting plan and custody arrangements.

What should you know before you head to your child custody hearing?

The first thing to know is that you and your ex should work together to create a parenting plan before the hearing. If you don't do this, you leave many of the decisions about your child's care to the will of the judge, who will consider your child's best interests.

What information should the parenting plan include?

Your parenting plan can include information about where your child will live each day of the year, holiday plans and contingency plans in cases of emergencies or when special activities come up. The agreement should include information on what happens if a parent wants to go on vacation and what happens during the holidays.

Other important information includes explaining when a parent can contact the child when he or she is in the other parent's care. Some parents are okay with open communication, while others prefer to spend time with their children without interruptions.

What kinds of custody can the judge grant?

The judge can decide to grant sole or joint custody. In sole custody arrangements, the noncustodial parent can still obtain visitation rights in many circumstances.

When your child turns 14, he or she can request to live with who he or she wants. Your child can change custody orders every two years. If this happens, your attorney can help you negotiate with your ex in the best interest of your child.

Source:, "Learning about Child Custody," accessed Nov. 18, 2016

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