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Don't go to a New Jersey child custody hearing unprepared

You've likely heard the old scouting phrase that encourages scouts to always be prepared. It's good advice, even for grownups. In fact, there may be times in your life when such advice can really come in handy, such as if you're heading to court for child custody proceedings. When you filed for divorce, you no doubt understood that it would have a significant impact on your children's lives.

You may have determined from the start that you needed to build a strong support network to help them come to terms with the life changes ahead and to successfully adapt to a new lifestyle. What you do and say during child custody proceedings in a New Jersey courtroom can greatly affect all that. The better prepared you are, the greater the chances of a favorable outcome.

Be able to tell the court why you're a good parent

If your ex is trying to get sole custody, you might have a fight on your hands. Now is not the time to be shy or hesitant. Instead, it's important that you can tell the court exactly why you believe your kids would be better off living with you. Is the other parent unfit? If so, be prepared to show evidence that supports your claim.

On the contrary, if your ex is trying to say that you're not fit to parent your children, you will need to refute those allegations. It's not enough to simply tell the judge it's not true. You must come prepared to show evidence that convinces the court it's not true.

Dress to convince

Appearing in court for child custody proceedings is definitely not the time or place to express your personal flare for fashion, especially if it tends to be eccentric or a grave departure from the norm. Business casual is best regarding courtroom attire. The goal is to give the judge the impression that you are a capable parent who is taking the proceedings seriously. For better or worse, first impressions do make a difference.

Research New Jersey laws ahead of time

If you enter child custody proceedings appearing as though you don't know the first thing about state laws, it might give the impression that you don't really care about the outcome. On the other hand, if you learn as much as you can ahead of time, especially regarding how such laws apply to your particular case, the judge will see that you came prepared and want to accomplish your goals.

Instead of trying to go it alone, you can turn to others for support. For instance, if you have a close friend or family member who recently went through similar proceedings, he or she might have a lot of advice as to what to do and what to avoid in court. Many New Jersey parents also seek guidance and support from experienced legal advocates when they are fighting for custody of their children.

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