Your obligation to your children does not end just because you are no longer in a close relationship with the other parent. This is true regardless of whether or not you were ever married to your former partner. When your relationship with your co-parent comes to an end, you must at least attempt to work out a parenting plan that makes arrangements for child support, parenting time and any other matters related to the child’s welfare. If, for whatever reason, you and your former partner are unable to agree to a parenting plan on your own, the court may require you to undergo mediation.
Once you have a parenting plan proposal in place, you must attend a hearing in which the judge will evaluate the acceptability of it. If acceptable, the judge will issue a decree that formalizes it. This decree is enforceable if either you or your co-parent fail to live up to your obligations at some point.
Preparing yourself before the hearing may be the key to success. Here are some tips that may help.
- Make every effort to attend
The court could dismiss your case if you fail to attend the hearing. Make your attendance a priority. You can contact the court to reschedule if you know in advance that you will not be able to make it.
- Arrive early
It is important not only to attend but to be there on time. Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time of the hearing.
- Bring the necessary documents
For an unmarried parent, these include your parenting plan; Decree for Paternity, Custody, Parenting Time, and Child Support; the results of genetic paternity testing; and the chain of custody for the genetic testing.
- Be prepared to testify
In other words, you will have to speak to the court about the facts of your case. Prepare what you intend to say beforehand. Be sure everything you say is truthful because you will be speaking under oath.