Maryland parents seeking sole custody of their children may wonder what they can expect at their custody hearing. Emotions can run high in these cases, but preparing ahead of time can help to ease some of the stress.
Find an attorney you trust
Your first step is to find a family law attorney to represent you and help you prepare for court. This attorney may answer any questions you have and guide you through the process of your child custody trial.
Familiarize yourself with Maryland law and better parent standards
Knowing the fine print of family law and the “better parent standard” used by the courts to determine custody is helpful. The burden of proving that the other parent is unfit for custody is left to the parent seeking custody of the child. You will need to provide your attorney with evidence supporting your claim.
Bring all necessary documents to the trial
If you do not have all the required documents, your case may suffer. Your attorney should go over what documents or evidence is necessary for the trial. These documents can include but are not limited to:
- Telephone records
- Proof of child support payments
- Child visitation schedules
- School, medical, dental or extracurricular records and payments made
Appropriate dress and etiquette
Your appearance and behavior in the courtroom can affect whether the judge finds you to be the “better parent.” A positive first impression is key, so your attorney may recommend professional attire. Even though the trial may be emotionally taxing, do not engage in outbursts or argue with your child’s other parent.
There is no jury in child custody cases. In many cases, a judge can give an immediate decision once both parties have made their cases. Either party has the right to appeal the decision, and your attorney may assist you with those next steps.