Start a parentage case

To start a parentage case, you begin by filling out two court forms: a Petition and a Summons. You will also need to fill out a form that tells the court where your children were born and live and if there are any other court cases involving them.

Before you start

Get familiar with a few key concepts

The forms include some terms that may be unfamiliar to you. Read more about:

Consider getting help

How to fill out forms to start a parentage case

  • Get the court address in the county where the child lives

    Generally, you must file your case in the county where your child lives or can be found.

    If you aren't sure where they are, you can file where you live. But a judge may move the case to another county.

    Look up the address of the court and write it down since you will need it to put on your court papers.  Sometimes there are multiple courts where you can file. Look for a county court that handles family law cases.

    Get county court info

  • Fill out forms

    Fill out these 3 forms:

    • Petition to Determine Parental Relationship (form FL-200)
    • Summons (Uniform Parentage — Petition for Custody and Support) (form FL-210)
    • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (form FL-105/GC-120)

    You can also attach optional forms to your petition to give more detail about the custody and visitation (parenting time) orders you are asking for. Some optional forms you can use are:

    • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment (form FL-311)
    • Children's Holiday Schedule Attachment (form FL-341(C))
    • Additional Provisions - Physical Custody Attachment (form FL-341(D))
    • Joint Legal Custody Attachment (form FL-341(E))
    • Request for Child Abduction Prevention Orders (form FL-312)

    On the forms, you're called the petitioner because you're the one starting the case. The other person is called the respondent

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    Additional information for special situations

    If the other parent of the child is deceased, you will need to list someone else as the respondent in your case. Talk with your Self-Help Center or a lawyer for more information about how to list the other party in your case and special rules for serving papers.


    If more than one person could be the child’s other parent, each one should be included as a party. Examples include:
    • There is more than one person who might be the child’s other biological parent
    • The person who signed a Voluntary Declaration of Parentage (VDOP) is not the child’s biological parent
    • A person has been acting as the child’s parent but someone else is the child’s biological parent, is listed on the Voluntary Declaration of Parentage, or is married to the birth parent

    If you add one or more additional respondents to the case, you must list them on all papers filed in the case and serve each one with the summons and petition.To learn more about whether you need to include more than one respondent in your case, talk to yourSelf-Help Center or a lawyer for more information.

    Fill out more forms if you can't afford the filing fee. When you file these forms, you will need to pay a fee (between $435 and $ 450). If you can't afford the fee, you can fill out forms to ask for a fee waiver.

  • Find out if you have any local forms to fill out

    Some courts have additional local forms they require you to use.   

    Contact your court clerk’s office, check your court’s website, or talk to your Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center to ask if they have any local forms you need to use. 

  • Fill out more forms if you need the judge to decide something

    Filing a parentage case does not get you a court date to see a judge. If you need a judge to decide something, you will need to file more papers to ask for a court date. For example, you may want a judge to decide and make orders about:

    • A visitation (parenting time) schedule

    • Child support and health insurance

    • Genetic (DNA) testing 

    Asking a judge to decide things like this is called requesting a temporary order. The judge’s decisions in a temporary order last until you have a final decision in the case (a judgment) or until another temporary order replaces it.  

    Learn how to request a temporary order

  • Make copies

    After you’ve filled out the forms and signed the Petition, make 2 copies of all of your forms. If there is more than one Respondent, make a copy for each one.

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