Questions Asked at a Child Custody Hearing

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In a child custody battle, a judge will ask several questions to determine which child custody arrangement, sole or joint custody, will work best for the children involved. Primarily, a judge's main concern is the best interests of the child.

The judge will ask a parent several questions during a child custody hearing to determine which custody arrangement serves the child's best interest. Here are some questions that a judge may ask during a child custody hearing:

What Is Your Financial Status?

A judge will inquire into a parent's financial status and financial resources because a court has to ensure that a parent is capable of caring for a child's vital financial needs such as food and shelter. Additionally, child support may be determined in the same hearing or a child support hearing may rely on information used in the child custody hearing.

In order to determine child support, whether a sole or joint custody arrangement, a judge will need to determine a parent's income. You should be prepared to provide evidence of your income to the court. The judge will also take other financial obligations, such as debt or other children, that you may have into account when making their decision. 

What Type of Custody Arrangement Are You Seeking?

During a child custody hearing, a judge will ask about the type of custody the parent is seeking. There are several different types of custody arrangements including sole or joint custody. A court will usually prefer a joint custody arrangement, as it serves the best interests of the child. It allows the child to maintain close contact with both parents.

If a parent is seeking sole custody, he/she should be prepared to present evidence of why the child's other parent should not have custody of the child.

How Is Communication With the Other Parent?

During a child custody hearing, most judges prefer to give both parents custody, as the court assumes that spending time with both parents serves the best interests of the child. In order to grant both parents custody of the child, a judge will probably ask about the parents' level of communication with one another.

In a joint custody arrangement, parents will need to communicate about decisions that affect a child's day to day life. The courts want to help ensure that each parent can play an active role in their child's life. 

Do You Have Any Existing Arrangements?

A judge may ask about your current custody arrangement (formal or informal) and inquire into which parts of the current arrangement are not working. During a child custody hearing, it is important for a judge to understand the parents' arrangement because the court does not want to interfere with a custody arrangement that seems to be working.

For more information about child custody proceedings, speak with a qualified attorney in your state, or refer to the child custody laws in your state.

2 Sources
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  1. American Bar Association. A judge's guide: Making child-centered decisions in custody cases. Second edition.

  2. Bastaits K, Pasteels I. Is joint physical custody in the best interests of the child? Parent-child relationships and custodial arrangements. J Soc Pers Relat. 2019;36(11-12):3752-3772. doi:10.1177/0265407519838071

By Debrina Washington
Debrina Washington is a New York-based family law attorney and writer, who runs her own virtual practice to assist single parents with legal issues.