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Filing for Child Custody

Filing for Child Custody


Filing for Child Custody


It may be possible for any Petitioner or Respondent in any state to handle filing for child custody without the assistance of an attorney. In fact, it could easily save on legal fees and rates.


Here Are the Appropriate Steps


Step 1: Pay a visit to your county courthouse and determine which court handles filing for child custody. Typically it would be the ‘family court.’ A Petitioner or Respondent may even check the government guide in the Yellow Pages for information on the family court for the county. If still unsure, a simple call to the county clerk or even the mayor may relieve the confusion and set a Petitioner or Respondent on the right track.

Step 2: Once finding the appropriate court – the family court of the county – simply call the clerk’s office and ask what you would need to do about filing for child custody. Typically, the issue is called a ‘custody petition.’ You may be extremely fortunate to have a clerk either e-mail an attachment petition form or fax a petition form for you, and the clerk may even help you with filling it out over the phone. Inevitably, though, you will have to visit the family court and properly file the document, so the petition for filing child custody is set in motion.

Step 3: When filling out the information on your petition for filing child custody, make sure you have all the necessary information: dates of birth, addresses, work addresses, and social security numbers. You will need all of this information for both you, the other parent, and the child(ren).

Step 4: This is of the utmost importance: be patient and friendly with court personnel. The appropriate filing of these documents will take time.


The Final Step: Make sure to ask as many questions as possible if you’re unsure about anything. It could be anything from what other forms to use or consider, how to fill them out, whether or not you’ll be responsible for delivering a copy to the other parent, the established court date, any court fees or document handling fees, free attorney qualifications, if you’re allowed to take home any forms to fill out, etc. etc.. There’s no wrong question when it comes to family law.


The Court Hearing


Even at this point, it may not be necessary to have a lawyer – although it can assist you in representation and lessen the stress of the situation. Typically, these child custody hearings don’t preside over a jury.


You may be presiding over a mediator or a judge. It’s important to know that simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers may be all that is required. If there are any explanations necessary to gather an understanding of the child custody issue, simply be quick and to the point. Always address the judge as ‘Your Honor.’ Be respectful. Never address the other parent in any way. It’s crucial to know that it’s not a ‘dispute,’ per se, between you and the other parent – rather, it’s a discussion between you and the judge/mediator.


These are important factors to consider in any child custody petition.