The state of New York generally prefers that children have relationships with both of their parents. Therefore, even if you aren’t married to your child’s other parent, you may be entitled to legal or physical custody rights to your son or daughter. The extent of these rights are typically determined by a judge after a formal hearing in the event that the parents cannot come to an agreement.
Tips for preparing for a custody hearing
Ideally, you’ll gather evidence that shows that you have a strong bond with your child prior to your hearing. You should also gather evidence that showcases your ability to provide for your son or daughter. Witness statements, phone records and bank statements may make it easier to convince a judge that you care about your child and can meet their needs. It’s also in your best interest to dress in a professional manner when appearing in court. Doing so creates the impression that you take the hearing seriously.
Remain calm throughout the proceeding
It may be a good idea to speak to a therapist prior to a child custody hearing if you have anger or other emotional issues. Doing so may help you develop strategies to cope with the possibility that your former partner might say or do things to trigger you while in court. Alternatively, it may be a good idea to talk to a friend, family member or other people who you trust about how to remain calm during a court proceeding.
In many cases, a ruling will be made shortly after a case concludes, and if you are not granted custody rights, you will likely receive visitation rights. Taking advantage of visitation time may eventually lead to obtaining the ability to be your child’s primary caregiver.