Preparing For A Child Custody Hearing


If you have a scheduled child custody hearing and want to be successful reagrding the child custody dispute, it is of your best interest to enter the hearing fully prepared.  During a child custody hearing, parents are expected to provide the necessary documents / documentation that proves who is the most capable of caring for the child.

Traditionally, mothers were often awarded custody of the children., Massachusetts and New Hampshire Courts are now leaving that way of thinking behind. More and more the Courts are truly attempting to involve both parents and truly order a parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.  It is not uncommon in Massachusetts for the Court to order a parenting schedule instead of awarding “physical custody” to one parent. New Hampshire has already eliminated the word “custody” from its decisions and only orders parenting plans. Often time, the parenting plans attempt to equalize time with the parents as best as possible, as opposed to having one parent only see their child every other weekend.

If you and the other party do not agree to shared physical custody or shared residential responsibility, there are multiple factors the courts will consider to determine who obtains physical custody.  Here are some factors:
1.    The parents’ temperament and personality.  Is the parent “fit to be a parent?”  Does the child appear to have a bonded relationship with the parent, or does the child show fear towards the parent?  A parent should not assume how the child feels about them.
2.    The parents’ capacity to raise their child.  Is the parent dedicated?  Is the parent physically, mentally and emotionally capable of raising their child?  Is it apparent that the child can maintain a healthy relationship with the parent seeking custody?  Is safety a concern?
3.    The parents’ employment and finances.  Is the parent fully employed, part-time, underemployed or unemployed?  Is the parent financially fit or in a lot of debt?  Can the debt be reconciled during hardship?  Is there money to help the child reach adulthood and possibly attend a higher education institution?
4.    The parents’ motive for seeking child custody.  Is the parent seeking child custody because they feel they are most fit to raise the child?  Or is the parent seeking child custody simply to i.e. avoid child support payments and / or other obligations / responsibilities?  Is the parent capable of maintaining their child’s relationship with the other parent?

It is very important to note that once a court decides who receives child custody after a trial, it will be very difficult to overturn the Judgment. If in the future there is a material change in circumstance, however, then either parent should file a Complaint for Modification.

If you find that you need further assistance with preparing for your child custody case, please do not hesitate to contact Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law, located in North Andover, MA.

About the Firm

Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law, based in North Andover, Massachusetts, not only serves North Andover, MA, but also Andover, MA, Methuen, MA, Boxford, MA, and West Boxford, MA and surrounding areas, including Southern New Hampshire.  The law firm has consistently been recognized as a “Best Law Firm” from in US. News & World Report .  If you are considering divorce, or have other family law-related concerns such as child custody, mediation / arbitration, modifications, pre-nuptial / post-nuptial, or paternity matters, consider contacting Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law.

For more information and to discuss your situation with an experienced family law / divorce attorney in North Andover, MA, please visit our website. To learn more about the U.S. News & World Report of Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law, click here .

For a family law and divorce consultation serving Andover, MA, 
contact us at Fernandez, Socci & Nieves Family Law

(978) 681-5454

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