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How to Prepare for a Child Custody Hearing in AZ | Hildebrand Law, PC

Tue 27th Feb, 2018 Arizona Child Custody Laws

A child custody hearing represents one of the most significant of proceedings held in divorce, legal separation, or paternity cases. Because of the significant nature of a child custody hearing, a parent needs to be well prepared for the proceeding. There are five key tips to bear in mind when preparing for a child custody hearing.

Step #1: Know the Factors the Judge is Required to Consider

The statutes that apply to child custody proceedings are from Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-401 through Arizona Revised Statute Section 24-417. Although a parent should review all of those statutes to understand Arizona’s child custody laws, the one that will typically be the most important in many cases is Arizona Revised Statute 25-403.

Arizona Revised Statute 25-403 lists all of the factors a court is required to consider when issuing a child custody order. As a result, you should determine what evidence you have to present on each of those factors that may establish what is in your child’s best interests.

Step #2: Obtain and Organize Any Documents or Other Physical Evidence You Want the Judge to See During the Child Custody Hearing

The evidence presented at a child custody hearing usually includes various types of documents. As part of preparing for a child custody hearing, a parent needs to make certain that he or she has obtained appropriate documentation in support of his or her position regarding a custodial arrangement.

Step #3: Deliver Your Exhibits to the Judge’s Division for Marking on or Before the Deadline Set By the Judge

Moreover, a parent must be certain to place the documentation in a logical, appropriate order for presentation to the judge during the court hearing.

In almost all cases, the judge will have issued a Minute Entry with instructions on how many days before the hearing those exhibits must be delivered to the Judge’s division to enable his or her staff to mark them as exhibits with specific exhibit numbers.

Those exhibits will be in courtroom when you begin your hearing, but you should bring an additional copy with you as well in case something went wrong with the marking of those exhibits or you simply want to follow along reading the exhibit when someone else makes a reference to it.

Step: #4: File and Deliver a Copy of Your Pre-Hearing Statement Prior to the Deadline Provided by the Judge

In almost all cases, the Judge will issue a Minute Entry requiring the parents to file a Pretrial or Prehearing Statement with information about your position on the child custody issues, a listing of the exhibits you intend to use, and the witnesses you intend to call at the hearing, as well as some other information.

Make sure you follow and comply with that court order.

Step #5: Understand the Process of a Child Custody Hearing

The Judge will decide which parent gets to start the hearing by presenting testimony and submitting exhibits to the court. It is important to ask the court to “move” any exhibit you use “into evidence” otherwise the court will hear about it but cannot consider it because it is not part of the official record until it is successfully moved into evidence during the hearing.

A full treatment of the entire process of a child custody hearing in Arizona is outside the scope of this page, but do understand a person testifies, then the other parent can cross-examine that parent, then the other parent gets to testify again after cross-examination. This goes on until both parents have presented their cases to the judge.

There also can be opening statements and closing arguments, as well as certain motions, objections and the like which you will need to be able to either make or respond to during your child custody hearing in Arizona.

Step #6: Understand the Arizona Rules of Procedure and the Arizona Rules of Evidence

A full treatment of the Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure and the Arizona Rules of evidence is far too extensive to effectively outline them for you in this article. So, you should read as much about those rules as you can because you will be required to follow them.

Step #7: Prepare Yourself for What You Will Tell the Judge, How You Will Organize Your Testimony, and Make Sure You Do Not Forget Anything Important

It is important for you to tell the Judge everything you want him or her to know during your Arizona child custody hearing. It is also important that you effectively use your exhibits during that hearing.

If you have an attorney, that attorney should be responsible for do this in his or he preparation for the child custody hearing.

If you are not represented by an attorney, it may be difficult to keep yourself on track and not forget anything.

One way you can help yourself is to write down all of things you want to tell the judge on a large posted board that you can see while you are on the stand. You can then tell the Judge you are not using that poster board as an exhibit to be included in the evidence but instead as a “demonstrative exhibit” you will be referring to during your hearing.

Most Judges should not have a problem with you using this approach to keep yourself organized during the hearing.

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Arizona Child Custody Hearing Attorneys

If you have questions about how to prepare for a child custody hearing in an Arizona divorce case, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child custody and family law attorneys have decades of combined experience successfully representing clients in child custody and family law cases.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona child custody or family law case around today.

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