How to File for Child Custody


Authored by Kate Beswick in Parenting
Published on 01-05-2010

Unfortunately, one of the most common things that divorced couples fight over is their children. And it’s all too often that even the nicest and most amicable divorces often turn into ugly custody battles. If you are in a situation where you need to fight for child custody, and want to file the papers yourself, there are a few things you need to consider.

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to file the papers yourself or hire a lawyer to do so. Lawyers, especially if you use a family lawyer, are very well versed in handling things such as child custody cases and so they will be able to walk you through all of the forms, paperwork, and court appearances. However, this doesn’t mean that you will be unable to file for child custody without using a lawyer. Filing the papers yourself is also possible although it may require a bit more organization and planning on your part.

When filing child custody papers yourself, you will first need to find out where your local family court is. They will have all of the forms and paperwork that you’ll need to fill out. These courts usually have all of the forms right on their website, which you can then print out and fill out at home. If you decide to do it this way, make sure you carefully review the court’s policies and procedures to make sure that you are filing properly. Also make sure that you have filled out all the forms that are required. Missing even one form can make the process much longer than it needs to be.

However, you don’t have to download the forms from online and visiting the courthouse in person actually has a few benefits. Firstly, if you’re able to fill out all of the paperwork while you’re there, you might save time that the post office would eat up. Mostly however, the biggest advantage to going down to the courthouse yourself is that there might be someone there who could help you fill out the forms. If you are going down to the courthouse yourself, it’s important to call beforehand. This is so that you can set up an appointment with anyone that might be able to assist you in filling out the forms. Also, calling will give you a chance to ask about everything you will need to bring with you, so you won’t waste your time there either.

Other than filling out forms, you will also need to look into how much it will cost to file for child custody. Different paperwork might have different fees to it, and if you’ve hired a lawyer, there will definitely be fees attached there as well. Some courts can subsidize the fees of filing for custody, as well as the court fees, if you cannot afford to pay for them yourself. Whether or not this is an option will depend largely on where you live.

Once the papers have been filed, you will then be given a court date. A lawyer will be able to help you with presenting your case in court and even if you haven’t used a lawyer up to this point, it might be a good idea to do so for the court appearances. If you don’t win your case, there might be plenty of opportunity for an appeal to be made. An attorney will be able to help you with this even further.


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