In most states, the decision-making authority of the custody determinations is split.The arrangement of shared custody allows both parents to make decisions about their child.A joint custody agreement is usually a straight forward process if both parents can agree on all aspects of legal and parental responsibilities.One parent may have to make a case to get joint custodial rights.
Step 1: Start a case when you are married.
If you want to end your marriage with the other parent, you can file for divorce, legal separation, or domestic violence restraining orders.
Step 2: When you aren't married, start the process.
If you are not married to the other parent, you can petition for custody once you start one of the following cases.
Step 3: Once you have started your case, you should petition the court for custody.
You will need to file a petition for custody of your child after you have opened a family law case.The rest of the article will take you through that process.
Step 4: An attorney is a good choice.
A family law attorney can help you navigate the custody process if you can afford it.You can find directions on how to find a good family law attorney.Many attorneys provide limited services at a reasonable cost if you can't afford a full-service attorney.You may be able to hire an attorney to prepare your documents, give you limited legal advice, or even teach you about this area of the law without having to pay the attorney.
Step 5: Look for the appropriate court.
In the same court you opened your family law case, you will file your petition for joint custody.In the country where your child lives, you will open your family law case.If you live in a different county, this is true.
Step 6: Complete the forms.
To get joint custody of your child, you will need to fill out a request for an order.This form requires you to give information about your request for custody and the facts supporting it.These facts should tell you why you should have custody of the child and how you want it to be.You have to decide what type of custody you want because you are petitioning the court for it.You can either seek physical or legal custody, or you can seek to share those duties with the other parent.You won't be asking for full control of both the legal and physical responsibilities of the child if you are filing for joint custody.
Step 7: Check your forms.
You will want to review the forms carefully after you have filled them out.The forms are going to be used in your custody argument, so you want to make sure they have been filled out completely.You can use some of the free legal resources available to you if you don't have an attorney.If you need help with these forms, you can contact a self-help center in California.If you're in California, use this link to get more information about those resources.
Step 8: You should file the forms.
You should go to your local courthouse to file your forms once they have been reviewed.You can file your forms at the courthouse.You will have to pay a filing fee if the clerk of courts takes possession of your forms.Fees can be different from state to state.You can always ask for a fee waiver if you can't afford it.You will need to show financial hardship in order to get a fee waiver.If you show that you don't have enough income to provide for basic necessities and pay the filing fee, you can show you are receiving public benefits.
Step 9: Give the other party something to drink.
When you serve the other party, you will hire a competent adult to give a copy of your documents to them to look over and respond to.The person you hire must give the required documents to the other party either in person or through the mail.The mail must be sent by certified mail.You have 30 days to file your documents with the court in Pennsylvania.If you provided service through the mail or personally, you must serve the other party at least five days before the hearing.You can find more information about serving another party here.You will also serve the other party with a blank response form and Declaration under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.The other party will use these documents to respond to your lawsuit.
Step 10: Wait for an answer from the person.
The other party will have an opportunity to respond to your petition once you have successfully served them.When the other parent answers your petition, they can either agree with your requests or deny them.The other parent may not file an answer at all.You could file for a default judgment if the other parent doesn't file an answer.A default judgment can't resolve all issues.If the child is in your state but the other parent is out of state, the court can modify the relationship.The court can't modify an order for child support from an out-of-state parent.
Step 11: You can take part in mediation.
Some courts will require you and the other party to take part in mediation before they will allow you to go to court.If your court requires mediation, you and the other party should make a good faith effort to agree on the terms of custody, which will allow you to avoid the trial process.Look here for more information about mediation.
Step 12: An agreement should be submitted.
If you and the other party took part in mediation and came to an agreement that allowed you to have joint custody of your child, get the agreement signed by the court and that will act as your valid custody order.In California, you need to fill out a Stipulation and Order for Custody in order to verify a custody agreement.Once you fill out this form, you will get the judge's signature on your stipulation and then file it with the clerk of courts.
Step 13: Understand what you need to prove in court.
If you were unable to reach an agreement during mediation, you will have to go to court and tell a judge why you should have joint custody of your child.Since you are asking for joint custody, the court will look to a variety of factors to determine what is in the child's best interests.They will be listed in either a statute passed by the legislature or a court opinion.Depending on the state, courts will look at different factors.The love and affection existing between the parties and the child is considered by Michigan.Kentucky considers a number of factors, including the wishes of the child, the adjustment to home, school, and community, as well as the mental and physical health of all individuals involved.Search online for "best interests of the child" and then your state to find the specific factors.Understanding what you need to prove in court will help you find the right evidence during the discovery process.You will need to prove your physical health, willingness to provide food and medical care, as well as a stable home environment.To these characteristics, you will need to fight attacks.
Step 14: Consider the science behind parenting.
The child has formed deep attachment in the first three years of life according to studies.If the child lived with both parents during these years, it can have psychological ramifications.If the child has been in the custody of both parents for three years, simply state to the court that it is in their best interests to continue their relationship.If you want to show you're considering your child's best interests, you should include evidence that you have a job that won't take you away from caring for the child.
Step 15: A list of details about your child's life.
Write down the classes he or she is taking.Who are his or her doctors, teachers, and other important influences?Tell your child's memories from when you last had custody.Make sure that you ask your child what's going on in school and with friends when you have access to them.Before you go to the hearing, make sure you know the basics about your child, such as their age and grade in school.
Step 16: Show your child that they will not be left out of their routine.
To show that you can provide a stable environment for your child, you need to live near their school.This will show you that your child's routine won't be disrupted when they stay with you.They won't have to endure a long commute.
Step 17: Show that you can provide support for your child.
When your child is in the home, you should show that you will be there.This means that you won't leave your child with a babysitter while you work or are busy.If you must be away from home, show that you have someone who knows the child to stay with him or her.If you have to work some nights that your child would be staying with you, you could show that the child's grandparent or other relative will be able to stay with them while you are gone.
Step 18: You should have proof of your mental and physical health.
To be able to take care of a child, you need to be mentally and emotionally fit.You can't have a mental or physical illness that could cause you to neglect your child or put them in danger.A statement or medical records from your primary physician can be used to establish proof of good physical and mental health.Someone with an extreme case of paranoid schizophrenia wouldn't be able to get custody of a child.The child could be placed in a dangerous situation because of this condition.
Step 19: Show that you are taking care of health issues.
You should show the court that you have taken steps to address the condition in order to be the primary caregivers for your child.Explain why the condition won't affect your abilities as a parent.If you have been diagnosed with mild depression, you should give the court your medical history.You have been on medication for a long time and you see a therapist.You should include information that shows that you have never put your child in danger because of a medical condition.This could be a statement saying that I have never put my child in danger because of my condition.
Step 20: You should confirm that you have never been abused.
Show that you don't have issues with abuse.Drug and alcohol abuse is included as well as mental, physical and sexual abuse.
Step 21: There are reasons why you think joint custody is best.
It's a good idea to think about why joint custody is the best for your child.If you're worried about remembering your arguments, you can write them down along with any other thoughts you have on the custody process.
Step 22: Discover something.
discovery is the first stage you will encounter.You can collect facts, get witness statements, and find out what the other party is going to say at trial during discovery.Informal discovery allows you to conduct interviews with witnesses, collect documents, and take photographs.Informal discovery processes are things you can do on your own while working with people.You can use a variety of tools to get information you need.Interrogatories are written questions the other party must answer, depositions are in-person interviews with an opposing party or witness, and requests for documents are.
Step 23: Meet for the evaluation.
The court will require you and the other parent to go through a custody evaluation, which will be submitted to the court.A professional will write a report about the parenting skills and abilities of you and the other party in a custody evaluation.You will likely have to take part in multiple interviews, some being conducted with the other party and others alone.The evaluator will try to determine if joint custody is in the best interests of the child.You may be asked how to show love for the child, as well as give the evaluator community and school records.The evaluator might want a record of the community activities the child participates in.To access them, you will need to sign a release.Information about the child's behavior, as well as discipline problems and relationships with siblings, are included in the home record.
Step 24: Your trial can be scheduled.
You will have to schedule a time to conduct the trial towards the end of your preparations.To request a trial date, contact the clerk of courts.You may have to convince a judge that the trial date will work for both parties and that everyone will be prepared.
Step 25: Arrive on time
Get to the courthouse early when your trial date arrives.You will have to go through a security checkpoint, which will look and feel like airport security.Wait until your case is called when you get through security.
Step 26: It's appropriate to dress appropriately.
Dressing professionally is an important part of being successful in court.You need to dress in a way that is professional and serious in the courtroom.If you have a suit, wear it.You shouldn't wear shorts, sandals, and hats.
Step 27: Make an opening statement.
You or your lawyer will have to give the judge a plan for what the evidence will show.The opening statement needs to summarize what evidence will support your claim to full custody.Don't argue.Emotions can run high in a custody hearing, but there is nothing to argue about during the opening statement because no evidence has been admitted into court yet.
Step 28: You can call witnesses.
The person seeking joint custody will present witnesses first.The witness will be cross-examined by the other parent.Asking leading questions is not a good idea.A leading question states a fact and then asks the witness to agree.Leading questions include, "You never spank your child, do you?"The attorney can ask witnesses to identify any documents you want introduced into evidence by asking a series of questions such as "How often does your son misbehave?" and "Do you punish him?"You need to get testimony that a document is what you say it is before it can be admitted into evidence.
Step 29: The witnesses for the other side have to be cross-examined.
The purpose of cross-examination is to either show that the witness is biased or that they don't have enough knowledge to testify about the matter.A witness can be impeached if they have a previous inconsistent statement.If a witness now claims that you are a bad parent, then that statement can be introduced.If someone testifies that you and your child fight, you can highlight how rarely the witness sees you.Try to remain calm.If you feel angry, close your eyes and breathe deeply.
Step 30: Give a closing argument.
You or your lawyer will link the evidence to the best interest of the child factors in your state's statute.Counter bad facts as best you can.If you don't have a clean criminal record, it's a good idea to point out the evidence that shows you've lived well for the past several years.
Step 31: Wait for the court decision.
The judge will make a decision after the trial is over.You will get joint custody of your child if you prevail.You can appeal the judge's decision if you think they made a mistake.