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Preparing for child custody hearings

Pennsylvanians who are going through child custody and visitation cases might wonder what they can do to strengthen their respective positions. Parents should be aware that the courts consider what is in the child's best interest when making custody decisions.

Parents should keep written records of their visits with their children and what they do during them. They should also document all of the money that they spend to help support their children. Parents who have residential custody of the children while their cases are pending should likewise document the other parents' visits and financial support along with any problems that they witness.

The strength of the relationship that each parent has with the children is an important factor for courts. Judges might have questions about relationships that are strained. Parents should be prepared to talk about their relationships with their children. It is also important for parents to make good decisions while their cases are pending: They should avoid engaging in conflicts with the other parents and avoid talking badly about them to others. Parents should also wait before moving in with significant others until after their child custody cases have finished.

Long after child custody and visitation cases are decided, the parents will need to be able to work together to co-parent their children. Parents should consider what is in the best interests of their children and place them first. Experienced family law attorneys may be able help clients think about what might be the most beneficial to their children in becoming well-adjusted and happier adults. A lawyer may be able to secure full parenting agreements through negotiations short of litigating the matters through court. In some cases, an attorney might need to litigate through hearings and trial on behalf of clients.

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