Prepare for and go to your court date

At least a couple weeks before your court date, you should start preparing for your day in court.  

How to prepare for your court date

  • Try to work things out before your court date

    illustration of the concept of dialogue between two parties in a case to come to an agreement

    Reach out to your grandchild's parents at least once before your court date to see if you can agree. If an attorney is involved, reach out to the attorney instead. You can do this in person, by phone, or in writing—whatever works best for everyone involved.  

    Still reach out to try to reach an agreement. If they don't file a response, they may still come to the court date. The judge can then decide whether to hear their side. If they don't file a response or show up at the hearing, the judge could make a decision based just on what you filed.


     If you have a restraining order or concerns about your safety, you don’t have to contact the parents.

    If you agree, write out your agreement

    If you are able to agree, write it down, sign it, and submit it to the court. 

    How to write an agreement

  • Get and file any information or documents

    a member of the public showing documents to a court clerk

    Sometimes things change, you get new information, or you want to add more to the paperwork you already filed.

    If you have new information or a document that you want the judge to consider at your court date, file it and have a copy of it served on the other side.

    If you can't get it filed and served before your court date, you can still bring it (along with two copies), but there's a chance the judge might not be able to consider it.

  • Organize your papers

    illustration of gathering documentation

    Organize the papers you plan to bring to court so you can get them quickly.    

    Put the notes with what you want to say on top followed by copies of any evidence you plan to use (statement, bills, receipts, declarations from witnesses). 

    Also, bring a copy of anything the parents filed in the case.

  • Ask for an interpreter or accommodations

    How to ask for an interpreter

    If you don't speak or understand English very well, you can ask for a court interpreter for your court date. The court will provide an interpreter free of charge.

    In many courts, you fill out and turn in a Request for Interpreter (civil) (form INT-300). Other courts use a different form. Contact your court to find out how to ask for an interpreter. 

    How to ask for an accommodation for a disability

    Each court has an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator to help persons with disabilities.

    To ask for an accommodation, fill out the Request for Accommodations by Persons With Disabilities and Response (form MC-410). Turn the form in to your court's ADA coordinator. Turn this in at least 5 days before your court date. 

  • Go to your court date

    If this is your first time in court, read some basics about how to plan for your day in court or tips for a remote hearing (if your hearing is by phone or on the computer).

    On your court date, you'll both get a chance to speak. Usually, the judge asks the person who filed the Request to talk first. After you both get a chance to speak and show any evidence you brought, the judge will make a decision.

    Usually, the judge will make a decision that day. If the judge feels they need more information, the judge may ask you to come back another day.  

    Someone prepares an order for the judge to sign 

    Once the judge makes a decision, the judge will need to sign a court order. In some courts, court staff fill out the order for the judge to sign.

    In other courts, one of you (or a lawyer, if either of you have one) will have to prepare the order for the judge.

    If you have to prepare the order, use Findings and Order After Hearing (form FL-340) and attach a Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment (form FL-341).

    The Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center may be able to help you if the judge says you need to fill out the Order.

Once you have a signed court order, the process is complete. You and the parents both need to follow the order.

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