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A divorce is not easy—not on you, not on your spouse, and especially not on your children. Sometimes it can feel like the odds are stacked against you, even in the court system. It may be that a parent facing a child support or child custody hearing may learn that the hearing has been scheduled at a time or place that is inconvenient. Don't let that sap your hope for getting the custody arrangements that you want.
All states handle child custody and child support hearings differently. Take a look at some general information about what a parent should do when a child custody or child support hearing is scheduled at an inconvenient place or time.
Appearance by Phone or Video
Often, if a court schedules a child custody or child support hearing at an inconvenient time or place, it may be possible to request an alternative form of an appearance such as via phone or video.
Unlike a trial, a hearing is usually a much shorter court appearance. A hearing is usually 15 to 30 minutes. Typically, no witnesses are heard. By comparison, a trial date can take a half-day or longer.
Postponement of Case
A court may change the date or time of a child custody or child support hearing to accommodate a parent who is unable to appear on the original date.
Change of Forum to a More Convenient Place
If a parent has moved to a different state from the child's custodial parent, the relocated parent can request a change in forum for a child support or child custody case. However, it is quite likely that a court will not change the forum, as the court is more likely to insist that the court hearing occurs where the child lives.
Factors Considered By the Court
There are certain factors considered by the court where they may allow a change to a scheduled child support or child custody hearing. A court will expect a parent to present documentation of inability to appear at an original court hearing.
If the parent has relocated to a different state and has difficulty physically making it to the court, that may warrant a change of date. In this case, the parent would be required to bring proof of the new address.
Also, if the court date affects a parent's employment situation during the hearing, the court may consider a letter from the parent's current employer.
Another factor that the court may consider is if by appearing at court, the parent fears for their safety. A court order of protection or other supporting documentation should be presented to support a change of place, time, or physical appearance in the court.
Waiver of Appearance
A parent may request a waiver of his/her appearance at a child custody or child support hearing if the time and place are inconvenient. In that case, a judge may institute a default order or may ask a parent to appear in another way such as by phone or video conferencing.
For more information about child custody and child support hearings, speak with a qualified attorney in your state and review child custody and child support guidelines.