(509) 581-2313

What To Expect During a Child Custody Hearing: A Guide

March 2024


Ed Shea


Filing Child Custody Form | Child Custody Hearing

Going through the process of creating a child custody agreement can be challenging and emotional for parents. As a crucial step in determining the custody arrangement of your child, it's essential to be prepared and understand what to expect during the process. This guide contains the overall steps involved so you can be well-informed and ready to present your case.

1. Hearing Preparations
Before attending the hearing, it is important to create a parenting plan. It should outline the parenting schedule, holidays, transportation arrangements, and communication guidelines. If both parents cannot agree on a plan, separate proposals must be submitted. The judge will consider these plans and enter an initial temporary parenting plan.

Additionally, it is important to dress professionally for the hearing even though we are appearing virtually. While a suit is not necessary, business-casual attire demonstrates respect for the court and shows that you are taking the process seriously.

2. Hearing Duration
Temporary child custody hearings are generally short, often taking less than 30 minutes, but because we cannot control where your case is on the docket, we could wait for a few hours before your case is heard. If there are multiple issues to address, the hearing may take longer.

3. The Hearing Proper
During the temporary child custody hearing, both attorneys present your case to a commissioner. The commissioner may ask specific questions to understand your case better and determine the best interests of the child.

4. The Commissioner’s Decision and Applicable Law
The commissioner's decision regarding temporary custody will be based on the child’s best interests. Several factors are considered, such as the child's relationship with each parent, the presence of siblings, the capacity to provide care, the home environment, continuity in the child's life, and both parents' physical and mental health.

After hearing both parents' sides, the commissioner will decide on a temporary visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. They will also decide on physical custody (where the child primarily lives) and legal custody (decision-making authority for the child's health, religion, and education). The physical and legal custody can be shared or sole, but this depends on the circumstances.

Consult a Family Lawyer Today
If you are going through child custody arrangements, Shea Law in Kennewick, Washington can provide the legal representation you need. Ed understands the intricacies of child custody cases and is experienced in navigating them. He will provide you with insights and guide you throughout the entire process.