Filling out and filing child custody forms and papers can be a major headache. Divorcing parents can feel completely overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork–and who can blame them? They need to fill out the forms to file for divorce, to petition for child custody and visitation, any attachments to their petition, responses to the other parent’s petitions, etc. The list goes on and on. To help parents wade through the sea of custody forms and papers, here are three things they can do.
1. Find the forms you need. This is the first step to conquering the mountain of paperwork. Every state has different forms to fill out, and the forms you fill out for your state depend on your custody situation. So, to save yourself extra work, sit down and figure out the forms you need. Most states offer the forms online, and if you can’t get them online, the forms are available in your county courthouse.
It may not be a bad idea to visit the courthouse so you can ask someone if you have questions. Then you can pick up the forms you need. And, most family law courts have a family courts services that can help you. You can inquire about this online or at the courthouse. You may also want to consult with a lawyer and ask what forms are applicable to your situation. You also have to pay a fee with you file your custody forms. But, there are additional papers you can fill out if you need the fee waived. You also want to get those if you need them.
Gathering together all the forms you need at the beginning will save you time later on because you won’t waste time filling out papers that you don’t have to, you won’t have to make multiple trips to the courthouse, and you’ll have all of your information accessible.
2. Keep the forms and other papers organized. It can be easy to lose track of papers–so you want to come up with a system of organizing them. It can be as simple as having a folder with all of the documents you need, or you may want to get an organizing folder that has dividers so you can separate the papers. Figure out a system that works for you. If you keep your papers in once place you won’t have to waste time looking for them or replacing them if they get lost. You also want to keep the other information you have about your custody situation with your forms–then you can find everything easily.
3. Prepare any attachments to accompany the forms. This varies from state to state, but you may need to come up with your own attachments to some of the forms. If your custody schedule isn’t a typical one that you can check on the forms then you have to submit a calendar as an attachment. Or, if you want to include provisions that aren’t written on any of the forms, you can attach your own. Prepare whatever documents you need to include with your papers–and keep those documents with your papers so you don’t lose them. Then you should be all ready to file your papers and bring them to court.
Gathering the forms that you need and organizing them can help you stay on top during this complex and complicated process. It also eliminates a major source of stress and can save you time. This enables you to focus your attention on other important matters.