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Preparing for a child custody hearing

North Carolina parents who are going through a divorce may also need to make a decision about child custody and visitation. If parents cannot agree, then the decision will have to be made by a judge. A judge decides who will be the better parent and what is in the child's best interests even if one parent does not agree with that criteria.

Once it is clear that the case will go to litigation, there are a few things a parent can do to prepare. In addition to researching custody laws and hiring an attorney, the parent may want to gather documentation to present at the custody hearing that will support their side. A parent should dress in a way that is appropriate for a court setting and should observe court etiquette because this will influence how the judge views the parent.

A parent may be disappointed by a judge's decision but still get a significant amount of visitation time. Parents may find that creating a parenting plan helps them anticipate issues that may arise around coparenting and create guidelines around those issues.

Examples of issues that may arise include how soon the child will meet a parent's significant other and how much time the child will spend with relatives of the other parent. Parents may also share legal custody even if the child will live with one parent most of the time. This means that both parents will be able to make decisions about a child's education, religion and healthcare. Parents might also want to talk about what they will do about expenses that are not covered by child support. Included in these expenses could be the cost of extracurricular activity and even how they might pay for the child's eventual college education.

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