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What should I do before a court hearing?

Any time you are going to court or appearing before a judge is stressful. However, when the matters involve your children and a custody battle, the stakes are even higher. While there may be nothing you can do to completely eliminate your nerves and anxiety, being prepared for the court hearing can help you feel more confident and ensure you are able to make the most productive use of the time.

One of the most important things to do when preparing for a court hearing is to gather all of your paperwork. It's best to keep all of your notes from your meetings with your attorney, documentation and past orders all in one place. Make sure to have notes about what you expect from the hearing or last-minute questions for your attorney, as it's easy to get overwhelmed once you're inside and forget. You will also want copies of your financial records and a notepad to take notes during the hearing.

You may also want to make an advance trip to the courthouse if you have not been there before. Parking is often limited or must be paid for at a parking deck or at a meter. Doing a dry run helps you better estimate how long you will need to drive there, where you are going to park and how much it costs. You will also be able to go into the building so that you are familiar with the security procedures and know where the courtrooms and waiting rooms are.

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early or when your attorney tells you to. You will need time to discuss things with your attorney before the hearing begins, and it also gives you a bit of a cushion for unexpected traffic or other issues. If you have questions about the actual hearing process and what to expect, your family law attorney can help.

Source: Colorado Department of Human Services Division of Child Support Enforcement, "A Parent's Guide to Visitation," accessed March 11, 2016

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