Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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When a child custody case goes to court

While many custody issues can be resolved privately, there are some parents in Massachusetts who end up needing the courts to decide with whom their children will live and how parenting plans will be set up. If this happens, it is okay. Parents can get through this and even walk away with the child custody agreement they were hoping for if they approach the situation just right.

So, what should parents whose child custody cases end up going to court do to help themselves? First, always arrive to hearings on time and be prepared. Second, show a willingness to collaborate with one's ex. Third, exercise one's parental rights. Finally, fourth, understand that appearance and representation in court matters.

What should parents not do when fighting a custody case in court? First, do not slack on parenting duties; this information will find its way into the courtroom. Second, do not abuse drugs or alcohol; such behavior makes one look like an irresponsible parent. Third, do to lie in court; the truth will eventually be found out. Finally, fourth, do not talk negatively about your ex to your children or purposely keep your ex from seeing your children; parental alienation is frowned upon.

Fighting about child custody is tough on any parent. The end goal is to put children in the best position to support their physical and emotional well-being. It is okay if a judge needs to step in to determine what type of situation will accomplish that goal. Just remember, how parents in Massachusetts present themselves in court can make all the difference in achieving the custody arrangement for which they are looking.

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