If you are an Alaska parent and you are going through a divorce, you may need to reach an agreement with the other parent regarding child custody and visitation. If you cannot come to an agreement, you might have to go to a child custody hearing. It can be helpful to know what to expect at this hearing ahead of time.
What to do in the courtroom
First, you should be prepared for the conventions of the courtroom. This means dressing appropriately, as though you might for a job interview. Your hearing will be with a judge, and the judge will probably make the decision at the end of the hearing. You may be able to appeal. You should try to remain calm in the hearing even if you are upset. Outbursts and angry accusations can count against you.
Other elements of a hearing
You might need to prepare some documentation for the judge. This could include records of your visits with the child, records of phone calls, proof of child support payment and more. It is also important that you understand child custody laws in Alaska. If you are working with an attorney, they may be able to help clarify any points specific to your case that you have questions about. You should also understand the process that a judge goes through if one parent is seeking sole custody. The judge must be convinced that one parent is better than the other one.
The standard a judge uses in making a decision is in the best interests of the child, and this might mean that parents may share both legal and physical custody. Physical custody, where the child lives, is what people often think of when they talk about child custody, but legal custody is important too because it gives parents the right to make decisions about important issues such as a child’s education, health and religion.