How to File an Answer in Child Custody

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Whenever a child custody case is opened in the court system, the individual whom the case is made against is provided with the opportunity to respond and express his or her thoughts on the matter. If you have an attorney, the attorney can submit the response for you. However, if you don't have an attorney yet, you can still submit a general response. You don't have to get into a lot of legal details in your answer. All you have to do is state whether or not you object and describe the outcome you would like to see transpire.

Read the petition that has been filed in the court system against you. The court will mail the petition to your address of record as provided by the party who filed the petition against you.

Open a program on your computer, such as Microsoft Word or Adobe, that will allow you to create documents. Click on "File" and "New" to begin creating your document.

Type the name of the court system at the top of the document. This will be your heading. For example, "In The Superior Court Of Davidson County." Underneath the heading, type the state; for example, "State Of Tennessee."

Press the spacebar twice on your computer keyboard.

Type on the left hand side, "In RE:" After the colon, type the name of the case that you are responding to; for example, "Petition of John Doe For Full Custody of Suzy Doe, A Minor Child."

Type the case or docket number.

Press the "Space Bar" twice on your computer keyboard.

Type your response to the petition. The response should start with your name as it appeared on the original petition. After stating your name, make it known to the court system what your stance is concerning the case and what you desire to happen in the case.

Here is an example: "I, Mary Doe, in response to the Petition of John Doe for full custody of Suzy Doe, do hereby answer that I object to the request made by John Doe to obtain full custody of minor child, Suzy Doe. I further request that the full custody of Suzy Doe remain with me. I also request that the custody rights of John Doe be changed to supervised visitation only." Note that this is only an example.

Press the spacebar four times on your computer keyboard. Type "Signature___ " and "Date__."

Click on "File" and then "Save" on your menu bar. Click on "File" and "Print" to print out a copy of your answer.

Sign and date your answer. Make a copy of your signed and dated answer for your own records.

Mail a certified copy of your answer to the address that is listed on the original petition. In most cases, the address will belong to the attorney of record for the party who filed the petition against you. After the recipient signs the receipt confirmation, the receipt confirmation will be mailed back to you.

Save the receipt confirmation along with your other legal documents in case; you will need to refer to them in the future.


  • -- Be sure to submit your answer before the court-appointed deadline. If you miss the deadline, you risk losing custody of your child.
  • -- Seek professional representation from an attorney instead of representing yourself in a child custody case.


About the Author

Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.