It is necessary to file a motion for custody with the court when there is a pending case for custody, divorce, family support or paternity. A motion may also be filed if a parent wishes to change custody. A child custody motion can be filed with or without the assistance of an attorney.
Filing the Motion
Print out a copy of the Motion for Custody form for your state, which is provided on your state’s Friend of the Court website. Fill out the form and contact your local Friend of the Court office to obtain a hearing date to use on your form in the space provided, as well as the name of the judge or referee who will hear your motion in court. Print at least three copies of the completed form for future use and records.
Take your original form and copies to your county clerk office in the county where your case is held. You will be required to pay a nominal motion filing fee at this time, which varies from state to state. Call ahead to the county clerk office to find out what your fee will be. There are options available for those who are unable to pay this fee. Your county clerk can provide information for this. The county clerk will enter the name of judge or referee on your form and keeps the original form, as well as any attachments for the court file. Any remaining copies and attachments will be returned to you at this time.
Serve the papers to the other party by mail. The other party needs to be served at least nine weekdays prior to the hearing date. You need to serve them with a copy of the original form as well as any attachments. You should fill out the Certificate of Mailing on the remaining copies. One copy needs to be kept for your records.
Return to the county clerk office with the remaining two copies after the other party has been served. The county clerk will then forward a copy to the state's Friend of the Court.
Prepare for and attend the scheduled hearing with all of your information with you, and be prepared to present your information to the judge or referee.