Finalize a parentage case

The steps to finish a parentage case depend on your situation. 

To finish your case, the court will review your forms to be sure nothing is missing. If nothing is missing and the judge doesn’t have any questions, the judge will sign your judgment.

If you're the respondent, you can also finish the case.

Your child can’t get a new birth certificate, inheritance rights, or survivor’s benefits until the case is finalized and a Judgment is entered.

Your case could be dismissed if you don't finish it within 5 years.

Final custody orders help families have stable and consistent custody arrangements.

If the judge makes a custody order any time before a Judgment is filed, it is considered a “temporary” order. To change a temporary custody order, you just need to show that the change is in the child’s best interests. 

Custody orders in a Judgment are “final” orders. To change a final order, you need to show that there has been a significant change in your (or the other parent’s or the child’s) situation.  

Forms and steps differ based on your situation

The forms you need to fill out and steps you need take vary a depending on:

  • If you agree about parentage and other orders or if you disagree
  • If there's a default (one person didn't respond)
  • If you already have a written agreement 
  • If you had genetic testing or a trial
  • If your final orders address child custody or child support
Get the forms and instructions you need for your specific situation here.

Figure out your next steps

Answer a couple of questions about your situation to see the forms and instructions you'll need to finish your parentage case.

Go to the questions


If you need something before you have a final agreement - like child custody or support - you can ask a judge to make a temporary decision (issue an order) while you work things out.  Learn how to ask a judge to make a temporary decision while you try to work things out.
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