Start a petition for child custody and support

To start a 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 these:

Consider getting help

How to fill out forms to start a custody and support 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 for Custody and Support of Minor Children (form FL-260)
    • 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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    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 temporary orders

    Filing a custody and support case does not get you a court date to see a judge. If you need the court to make a decision before the end of your case, you will need to file additional papers asking for a court date. For example, you may want a judge to decide:

    • When you can see the child 

    • Who will make a decisions about your child's care and wellbeing

    • Whether one of you will pay child support 

    The process to ask a judge to decide things like this is called requesting temporary orders. You’ll need to fill out more forms. 

    Learn how to request temporary orders

  • Make copies

    After you’ve filled out the forms and signed the Petition, make 2 copies of all of your forms.

Petition for custody and support

What's next?

After you fill out your forms, you will file them with the court and pay a filing fee.

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