When you and your spouse have decided to file for divorce, you may be wondering: “What happens at the first custody hearing?” Fortunately, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. First, you must prepare yourself for the hearing. A judge will review your case and decide on custody. He will look at your lifestyle, stability, ability to care for the child, and whether domestic violence is a problem in your relationship. In addition, you should prepare a parenting plan. It should include a schedule for each day of the year, transportation arrangements for pick-ups and drop-offs, and contact information for the other parent.
After hearing the evidence, the family court judge will reach a decision. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the court may reserve a decision for a few weeks or months before issuing the final ruling. If the judge does not make a decision immediately, you can request a written decision. This decision will be final unless you choose to appeal it. Unless you have a substantial change in circumstances, you should not appeal it.
You should prepare evidence to show that you are able to care for the child, including proof of income. The judge may also ask about other children that you have, as well as other financial resources that can support the child.