Hearing for Child Custody

During a child custody hearing, the judge will decide whether to award physical or legal custody to one parent or the other. The judge will make a decision after reviewing the evidence and the testimony of both parties. This decision is final unless the case is appealed. 

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If a parent cannot afford an attorney, the court will assign an attorney. The court may also appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the child in the case. The ad litem can confirm the child’s wishes and any child protection concerns. The ad litem is not required to attend the hearing, but he or she can provide an objective viewpoint to the judge. A therapist or clinical social worker can be employed to conduct interviews with the child and parents. The evaluator will write a report on the circumstances of the case, including the recommendations and plans. 

At a status hearing, the judge will review the service plan, which is a document that lays out rules and procedures to be followed by both parents until the child turns 18. The service plan will be looked at from child safety and achieving objectives standpoint. In addition, the court will examine whether the parties are making progress on the service plan. A status hearing is not a trial, so the transcript cannot be made public. During the hearing, the attorney ad litem will represent the child, and the judges will listen to the testimony of both parents. The ad litem will also be able to advise the judge as to what the parties should do next. 

If the judge makes a decision, he or she will warn both parents and all other people involved in the case. The court may decide to issue a warrant for arrest or a default order. The judge will review the knowledge and skills acquired in the case and may decide to resolve the case outside of a trial. 

The court may also set a review hearing. This is more likely in access and custody cases. A review hearing will be held if a party can prove that a change has occurred since the last order. In addition to that, the petitioner must show that the change is in the best interests of the child. Some factors the court will consider are the age and physical condition of the parents. Similarly, the home environment is important in determining custody. In some cases, a substance abuse issue can play a role. 

The court can also consider extraordinary circumstances. These include persistent neglect, unfitness of the parents, or disruption of custody for an extended period of time. The court may also order an investigation from social services. These investigations will look for signs of mental illness or parental alienation. The ombudsman will report any reasonable suspicion of abuse or neglect. 

The courts are looking for a safe and stable environment for the children in custody cases. In many cases, the parents can work out their differences through settlement. The parties can file a petition for a modification of their custody orders. The petitioner will need to prove that the changes to the order are in the child’s best interest.