California – Obtaining Child Custody

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DIFFICULTY: Legal help required

Child custody and child support disputes can arise from number of situations. They can occur out of new marriages or partnerships forming or old ones dissolving. They can occur if one parent moves, changes jobs or is faced with legal problems. Whatever the cause, if you are looking to reach a resolution regarding the custody and support of your child, your first step should be to contact an attorney with experience in family law. While these cases should not be tried without legal counsel, it does help to be familiar with the procedure. In some cases, filling out the required forms ahead of time can save you money with your attorney.

Step 1: Form Completion

Fill out the following forms which illustrate the arrangement you are seeking regarding custody and support of the child or children in question: Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children – highlighting the custody arrangement you are seeking, Summons – ordering the other party to respond to your request, Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act – required in any case that attempts to modify a child’s custody arrangement, and Income and Expense Declaration – used to help establish child support payments. Once your forms are filled out, have them looked at by your attorney to ensure that they are complete and accurate.

  • Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children
  • Summons
  • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
  • Income and Expense Declaration

Step 2: Filing of the Form

Make at least two copies of your forms, filing one copy with your county’s court clerk and delivering another copy by service process to the party you are taking action against. Once you file with your court clerk, they will assign you a court date. Along with copies of your filled out papers, you must serve the other parent with blank copies of: Response to Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children, Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, and Income and Expense Declaration.

Step 3: Submit Proof of Serving

Submit a proof of service form to establish that the other parent was served the appropriate papers. The type of form your server fills out to prove the papers were served depends on the method of service, either Proof of Personal Service or Proof of Service by Mail.

  • Proof of Personal Service
  • Proof of Service by Mail

Step 4: Attend Court Hearing
Attend your court hearing on the designated date with your attorney and copies of all your forms.

Additional Resources

  • Child Support
  • Child Custody