What do these papers mean?

Petition and Summons (forms FL-200 and FL-210)

If you received these forms, someone is asking a judge to determine if they or you are the legal parent of a child (called parentage, or formerly paternity). 

If you are a child's legal parent, they may also be asking the judge to make orders about the child's care and support.

This page will help you understand what the forms mean and your options for what to do next.

Form FL 200 showing petitioner

Who is asking

The person who filed the case is the Petitioner. This is usually the person who gave birth to the child, or someone who wants a court order stating whether or not they are the child's legal parent.

The Petitioner could also be the child or someone who represents the child.

Form FL 200 showing requests

What the other person wants the court to decide

On page 2 of the Petition, the person who filed it (often the child's parent) will have checked boxes to say what they want the court to decide. 

  • Legal parent child relationship

    Item 7 states whether they want the court to determine if you or they (or both) are the child's legal parent and if they want genetic testing

  • Child custody and visitation (parenting time)

    Item 8, and any attachments, state what custody and visitation (parenting time) orders they want the court to make

  • Child support

    Item 12 explains that the court can make child support orders at anytime. 

The Petitioner can ask for other things, like to change a child's name or money to cover pregnancy costs. They can also ask for money to cover the costs of an attorney.

You can respond and say how you want the issues decided. If you don’t respond, they can ask the court to decide without your input.

Form FL 210

How to respond and what happens if you don't

The Summons (FL-210) explains what you can do.

You can respond by filing a Response (form FL-220) in court. 

If you don't file a Response within 30 days of getting these papers, the Petitioner can ask the court to decide the case without your input. This is called a default.

The court could decide who the child's legal parent is and make child custody, visitation (parenting time), and child support orders without your input. 

If you agree with what the petitioner has asked for, you may choose not to respond and the case will continue the case without you.


In certain situations, instead of a response, you may want to file other papers telling the court that you don’t want to participate because the petitioner made a mistake in their case. Some examples include:

  • There is already another case open
  • The case was filed in the wrong place (e.g. the child doesn’t live in the county where the case is filed)
  • You weren’t served properly
  • The petitioner does not have the right (standing) to file

In court, this is called a special appearance. It is very important that you understand the consequences of responding or not responding to a case. Talk to your local Self-Help Center or an attorney for more information.



If it's been more than 30 days and the Petitioner hasn't asked the court for default, you can still file a response. 


Things you cannot do now

Once you're served the Summons and Petition, there are things you can’t do without a written agreement from the Petitioner or a court order. They’re called Standard Family Law Restraining Orders.    

For example, you can’t: 

  • Take the child out of state

  • Get a new passport for the child

Read page 2 of the Summons for a complete list. These same rules apply to the Petitioner.

What to do next

Decide if you'll respond within 30 days

If you respond, this means you will participate in this parentage court case and have input on any court decisions. You and the other person may still agree and not need to go to court. If you don’t agree, you can use a court process to have the court decide.

File your Response within 30 days of getting the Petition. After 30 days, the petitioner can ask for a default and the court can decide the case without you.

You can choose not to respond because you and the other person already have a written agreement. This is called a default with an agreement. The court will decide the case based on the information the other person provides.

Consider getting help

This website has information to walk you through the basic process. But, you may need more help or legal advice.  

  • Get free help from the court. The court where the case is filed has a program where they offer free legal information about parentage cases. Learn more about the court’s Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center.  

  • Hire a lawyer to help you with all or a part of your case. Even though it’s possible to do this process without a lawyer, you may wish to hire a lawyer