How To File For Custody Of A Child, With Or Without Lawyer?

How To File For Custody Of A Child, With Or Without Lawyer

Image: Shutterstock


Having to go through a divorce is devastating, and it becomes even worse if minor children are involved. When two parents decide to get separated, children have to deal with a lot. Along with accepting that they no longer can live with both the parents, they also have to choose with whom they should stay.

In the event of a divorce, both the parents need to file for the custody of the children. The court would then hear from both parties and decide in the best interests of the children. You can file for sole or joint custody. This process can be done with or without the help of a lawyer.

Read this post to know the various types of custody and also how to file for it pro se or with the help of a lawyer.

Types Of Custody

Whether the couple comes to a mutual agreement on the child custody or decides to fight for it in the court, it is important to know the types of custody that are allowed in the US.

  • Legal custody: In this type, the parents have a say in the long-term decisions regarding the child’s life. Be it the question of which high school to choose, or whether to get them vaccinated or not, the parent with legal custody has a right to decide for the child.
  • Physical custody: Unlike legal custody, in this type, the parent will have a right to influence the day-to-day lives of the children.
  • Sole custody: This type is usually granted when one of the parents is abusive or an addict. In such a case, one parent will have full custody of the children. The other parent would have no say in the decisions taken regarding the children.
  • Joint custody: In most states, the court prefers to give joint custody, where both the parents have equal rights over the children, and the children have to spend equal time with both the parents.
  • Grandparents custody: If none of the parents are available to take the custody, then the court would consider giving custody to the grandparents.

The custody laws in the US differ from state to state. Some states prefer to give a joint custody order, while in others, if the couple is not married, then the mother will automatically get custody. If you are looking to file for sole custody of your child, you first need to know the custody laws in your state.

How To File For Custody Of A Child? 

If both you and your partner have reached a mutual conclusion about child custody, then you can file for it in the court and get custody without much hassle. But, if you are unable to conclude, then you may have to go through a lengthy process.

Filing the custody can be done by yourself or with the help of a professional lawyer. Before getting into the details, let us first examine some of the factors you need to consider before filing for child custody.

What You Need To Consider Before Filing For Custody? 

Before filing for custody in the court, both you and your partner must consider a few factors that might influence the children’s lives.

  • In case you are looking for sole custody, make sure you are up for all the challenges and responsibilities.
  • Never fight for sole custody to take revenge on your partner.
  • Always think about the interests of the children.
  • Ensure you and your partner are in harmony with each other if you are looking for joint custody.
  • Talk to your children to understand what they want.
  • If your partner is abusive or an addict, make sure you have all the evidence to prove it to the court.

Once you are sure of your motives, you can proceed to file for child custody on your own or through a professional lawyer. Here is a detailed procedure for both.

How To File For Custody On Your Own? 

It is advised that you file the custody through a professional lawyer. However, if you are looking to file for your child’s custody on your own due to financial constraints or other reasons, here is how you could do it.

1. Find out the custody laws in your state 

This could be a tedious and time-consuming task, but make sure you research and learn everything you need to know about the custody laws, legal loops, documents, and requisite forms. Having this knowledge will help you represent well and answer all the questions pertaining to the custody.

2. Get in touch with the court clerk 

Once you have all the documents and forms needed, contact your local family court to get all the necessary papers to file the custody. In some states, these can be downloaded from the website, while in others, they need to be collected in-person from the clerk’s office.

3. Maintain clear records 

Record and collect proofs of every phone call, visit, email, or message between your ex, you, and your children. These might help you in proving your point while contesting for the divorce. While recording, take care to include only the facts and refrain from using any negative or foul language.

4. Carefully follow up the case 

Your task is not done after filling in the forms since many forms might require a follow-up within a certain period of time. Make sure you keep track of everything and never miss any deadline. Also, keep all the papers organized so that you will have all the required information on your fingertips.

5. Make sure you are confident 

Before going to the court, make sure you are confident about your representation. Rehearse your representation, and be sure of the type of custody and the visitation rights of your ex. If you feel otherwise, contact a legal intern or a friend who can review your case and give you some tips.

6. Use a polite tone in the court 

Always keep your calm and use a polite tone while presenting your case. No matter how much you would be provoked, never lose your temper and shout in the court. Also, do not go beyond your case and stick to the facts.

7. Do not get discouraged 

Winning a custody case through self-representation is no cakewalk; there would be setbacks and multiple hearings, so do not get discouraged and give up. Focus on your end goal and continue to work on it.

How To File For Custody Of A Child Through A Lawyer? 

Filing a custody case through an attorney is relatively easy as they would listen to your requirements, explain the process, fill in the paperwork, and represent you in front of the judge. As the lawyer would be experienced, you will have a better chance of winning, provided you have a strong case on your side. However, hiring an attorney can be expensive.

Child custody is a delicate and important issue in a divorce process, as it decides the future of your children. When you and your partner decide to go on different paths, the best thing to do is sit, discuss, and come to a mutual conclusion regarding child custody. However, if your partner is abusive, an addict, or is incapable of taking care of kids, then you must fight for the safety of your children.