This is the next post in my series on how to proceed in a Brevard County child custody case when the other parent is using drugs. My last article discussed how discovery can be used to prove drug abuse in child timeshare cases. It is important that the discovery process be utilized so that you have necessary evidence. In this article I will discuss another important topic – preparing for and proceeding to trial in such a matter. I cannot stress enough the fact that you should contact an attorney to assist you with obtaining a child custody modification.
There are steps a lawyer will take when preparing Brevard child custody cases for trial
There are steps your lawyer will take in preparation of taking a child custody case to trial in a Brevard County Court. First, it is necessary that you be able to use evidence you have obtained through the discovery process. Second, you need to ensure that the relevant witnesses will attend trial. Third, it is important that you be prepared for the process yourself.
Evidence must be disclosed to the other side before it can be used at trial. You are not permitted to leave the other side guessing which documents and records you may or may not attempt to introduce. Prior to trial your attorney will disclose a list of documents and witnesses to the other parent’s counsel. Including something on this list does not mean that it has to be introduced at trial, it simply means that you are reserving the right to introduce it. Similarly, the other side is required to disclose which evidence they may or may not use. Before trial your attorney will make these disclosures on your behalf, so that you may use your evidence and counsel will also analyze the disclosure from the other side.
There are ways to ensure that your witnesses show up for trial. In a child custody case, where the other parent is abusing drugs, it is understandable that one may not wish to testify that their friend uses controlled substances around their little one. Such a witness, therefore, may state they will not appear at Court. If a subpoena is served on such a witness then they will be required to attend the process. If they fail to do so then they can be held in contempt and may face jail time. This is why it is important for your counsel to subpoena all relevant witnesses.
You will need to be prepared for trial yourself. In any case requesting a change of custody it is necessary to show that you offer a suitable environment for the child. This requires your testimony. Your attorney should help know what to expect in the courtroom and help you prepare for questions you will need to answer.
Brevard County, Florida child custody trials are decided by the Judge
A difference between child custody cases and other areas of law is that there is not a jury who decides the ultimate outcome. Brevard County Courts decide such matters a bench trial. This means that the Judge will hear the evidence and give their decision after weighing the facts. The party requesting the change of custody will present their case, the opposing party will have their say, and then the requesting party may offer “rebuttal” evidence. The Court will then issue a ruling.
Contact my Melbourne family law office today to speak with an attorney if you believe your child’s other parent is engaging in drug use. It is a mistake to go through this process without a lawyer. I also service the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.