How Do You File For Custody of a Child? 

If you’re wondering how to file for custody of a child, you’re not alone. Thousands of people face this very question every year. But before you file for custody, you need to know the basics. These include the basics of legal custody, the basics of parenting classes, and establishing paternity. 

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Legal custody 

The first step in requesting custody of a child is to file a petition with the court. The petition must include certain facts relating to the case and should explain why you deserve custody. The court will use this information to decide whether or not to grant custody to you. The petition should also outline how the custody request will benefit the child. 

There are two main types of cases in family courts: contested and uncontested. In contested cases, both parties have different positions on the custody issue. In uncontested cases, both parties agree on all aspects of the case. Both parties must complete and file a general form called a “General Form-17” and an Article 4 or Article 6 in all other cases. Each party is known as a petitioner and the other is called the respondent. 

Parenting classes 

A judge decides on child custody based on what is in the best interests of the child. Many factors are considered, including the living arrangements of the parents. While fairness to both parties is important, the child’s welfare comes first. A lack of parenting ability does not carry as much weight as other factors. An attorney can advise you on what factors will matter most in your case. 

In some cases, parents can reach an agreement on custody without a court order. These agreements can become binding on both parents. However, without a court order, such an agreement cannot be enforced. To get a court order, you should file an agreement with the clerk of the court and have the judge sign it. 


If you are filing for child custody, you should consider mediation as an option. While it can be stressful, you should go into mediation with an open mind. Keep in mind that the other parent may have a different point of view about parenting and that the mediator might offer recommendations regarding parenting time, custody, or substance abuse. 

When going into mediation, be sure to communicate your wishes clearly and honestly. Your goal is to arrive at a solution that is in the best interests of the child. In this way, the mediator can work to create a custody arrangement that suits both parents. 

Establishing paternity 

Whether you are filing for custody of a child or just looking to establish your relationship with the child’s mother, there are many things to consider. For starters, establishing paternity ensures that the child is legally the child of both parents, and this is important because it gives the child a legal father and gives you certain rights and responsibilities as a parent. Without paternity, you won’t be responsible for child support and will not have custody and visitation rights. In addition, paternity also grants the child certain benefits, such as access to his or her father’s medical records and health insurance, and gives you the legal right to claim the child’s inheritance. 

The process of establishing paternity involves a court hearing. It will be conducted by a Support Magistrate or a judge, and the outcome will depend on the circumstances surrounding the child. If the mother of the child is unmarried, you will receive an Order of Filiation. 

Filing for custody after a court order is entered 

After a court order is entered, you need to file the appropriate paperwork. The process varies depending on the type of case, but the basic steps are similar. You must file a court order form, pay the filing fee (unless you can qualify for a fee waiver), and set the matter for a hearing. In some cases, you can agree to the terms of the order, in which case you can file for custody and visitation. 

Usually, a custody order is final after a trial or hearing, but it may still require the signature of a judge. After the order is entered, the parties must submit the completed forms to the court, either by mail or filing. In some cases, the judge may ask for a short hearing to decide whether the parties can agree on the custody order.