Child custody hearings are never easy, but they can seem incredibly intimidating when you’re not familiar with the process. For most parents, the idea of a judge deciding the fate of where their children will live isn’t very comforting. However, the goal of child custody hearings is to determine what will be best for the child. Here are a few tips to help you feel prepared on the day of your hearing:

1. Know what to expect

While circumstances vary for every family, most child custody hearings are more straightforward and less adversarial than other court cases. You will present your case in front of a judge who will then likely make an immediate decision and give you your custody order.

2. Plan your wardrobe 

Parents who wish to win a child custody hearing should plan on dressing appropriately to make a good first impression. After all, you’ll only get one chance to prove you are a responsible parent to the judge. Plan on dressing formally and conservatively, or as you would for a professional job interview. You can also ask your attorney for advice on you should present yourself during your hearing.

3. Prepare the necessary documents 

While your attorney can help you determine which specific documents you should present to the judge, too much documentation is always better than too little. Your case’s relevant documents may include phone logs, visitation schedules, or your child’s school or health records.

4. Practice courtroom etiquette 

While emotions may be running high as you prepare for your child custody hearing, remember that acting up during your hearing could cause you to lose custody. Practice staying calm and avoiding common courtroom pitfalls such as emotional outbursts. If possible, try rehearsing your case with your lawyer or a trusted party to understand the expectations.

By knowing what to expect and showing up prepared, you can ensure that you will be putting your best foot forward on the day of your hearing.