Respond to a request for custody and parenting time

If you were served with a Request for Order (form FL-300) asking for child custody and parenting time orders, this means that the other parent of your children has asked the court to make orders regarding custody and parenting time (also called visitation) of your children.  

Understand your options

  • If you don’t respond, the court may make a decision based only on what the other parent says is best for your children.  
  • If you respond and participate, you will go to mediation or child custody recommending counseling to see if you can work out a parenting plan. If you cannot, the judge will make a decision.

To respond, you fill out and file forms with the court. You then have your response forms mailed or given to the other parent. Finally, you go to your court date, which will include mediation (either before or the day of your court date).  

You may be required to go to mediation

When parents need the court’s help trying to come up with a parenting plan that is in their children’s best interest, one or the other can ask for a court date. Learn more about child custody and parenting time.

Before or at that first court date, the judge will send the parents to mediation. In some counties, mediation is called child custody recommending counseling.   

In mediation: 

  • The parents work with a trained mediator to come up with a parenting plan 

  • If they agree, both parents and the judge sign the parenting plan and it becomes a court order 

  • If they cannot agree, the parents go in front of the judge, who will make the decision

How to respond to a request for custody and parenting time orders

  • Fill out Responsive Declaration to Request for Order form

    A person filling out a form.

    Responsive Declaration to Request for Order (form FL-320)

    This form lets you tell the judge and the other parent if you agree or disagree with the request and why. 

    For custody and parenting time (or visitation), fill out items 2 and 10. 

    Item 10, “Facts to Support,” on page 2 asks you to explain why the court should order the parenting plan that you are asking for. If you need more space, check the box that says, “Attachment 10.” You can use Attached Declaration (form MC-031). 

    For example, if your child has been struggling in school and you are home after school to help with their homework (and the other parent is not), you can explain that as a reason why you want your child on school nights.  

    If there is a document or other information that supports what you say (like school grades, letter from a counselor, your work schedule), attach that to your request.  


    If the other parent asked for more than one thing in their Request for Order (form FL-300),

     like child custody or something else, use just one form to respond to all of their requests. Learn more about how to use the form on Information Sheet: Responsive Declaration to Request for Orders (form FL-320-INFO). 

  • Attach documents to support your case

    illustration of gathering documentation

    Sometimes it's important to have documents that support your case.  If you have any, you can attach copies or file these with your request so the judge can consider them at the hearing.

    • Examples of documents that support your case may include things like school grades, a letter from a counselor, or your work schedule
    • Black out any private information like a Social Security number or account numbers
    • If there is a witness (someone who saw or personally knows something), you can ask them to write and sign a statement that says what they know. Learn more about witness statements.

    If you don't have these ready now, you can file them later.

  • Make copies of your forms

    After you’ve filled out, signed, and dated both forms, make 2 copies of the forms.   

  • File your forms

    a member of the public showing documents to a court clerk

    To file your forms with the court, give the original and the 2 copies to the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original and will stamp the copies and return them to you.  

    Yes, you can file by mail. Mail your original and 2 copies to the clerk. You need to include the filing fee and a self-addressed stamped envelope so the clerk can mail your copies back to you. If you do not include a self-addressed stamped envelope you will have to go to the courthouse to pick up your copies.  

    Some courts allow online filing. You can find out if your court has online filing by visiting your court’s website.  

Respond to a child custody request

What's next?

Once you’ve filed the forms, the next step is to serve the other parent. This means having another adult deliver a copy of the forms you filed. You can do this by mail or in person. 


Before or after you serve the papers, you can prepare for mediation.

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Have a question about Child custody/visitation?

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