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How to File for Child Custody

Determining child custody is an important part of any divorce or separation proceeding. It can also be an issue addressed in family court between parties that were never married. In California, child custody is decided based on the best interests of the child. In order to file for child custody, several steps must be taken.

Establishing Paternity

If you are a father seeking custody or visitation with your child, you must first establish paternity with the court. This can be done by showing proof that you're name is on the child's birth certificate. In cases where a father is not listed on the birth certificate, paternity testing will need to be performed. For mother's seeking child support, this procedure also needs to be followed to establish paternity.

Completing Required Documents

There are multiple documents that need to be completed when filing for custody. This can include any supporting documentation, such as proof of paternity, any current or past custody orders, separation agreements, and domestic violence orders. The required forms include:

  • Order to Show Cause

  • Application for Order and Supporting Declaration

  • Child Custody and Visitation Application

  • Responsive Declaration to and Order to Show Cause

  • Notice of Motion

  • Proof of Service of Summons

Serving the Other Party

In any child custody case, both parties will need to attend all court hearings. In order to notify the other party of your intent to file for child custody, you must serve them with all of the required documentation listed above. Neither party involved in the case can personally serve the other party. An adult third-party that has no involvement in the case must serve the respondent in the case at least 16 days prior to the court date.

Navigating child custody on your own can seem overwhelming. At Embry Family Law, we pride ourselves on providing compassionate, attentive, and thorough care for all child custody cases, ensuring our clients receive the most favorable results.

Call Embry Family Law at (619) 485-6476 if you need help filing your child custody order.