Child custody is a legal term regarding guardianship, care, control and maintenance which the court may award one of the parents following a Divorce or separation proceeding. below are ways to apply for child custody without an attorney.

The parent with custody controls decisions pertaining to the child’s;

(a)Education

(b)Religious upbringing

(c)Health care

Courts have the option of choosing one of several types of custody. Temporary custody grants custody of the child to an individual during the divorce or separation proceeding. Exclusive custody endows one parent with all custody rights to the exclusion of the other parent. The non-custodial parent may receive supervision rights like; supervised visitation rights.  A court can award the custody of a child to a third party if the third party has sought custody. The third party is often a grandparent or other close relative.

There are advantages and disadvantages involved in one filing for child custody without an attorney.

Advantages

For parents who want to file for child custody but who cannot afford a lawyer, filing without an attorney is a viable alternative. In addition, when you file without a lawyer, you learn a lot about the legal system. The legal feedback can equip you to be your own best advocate.

Disadvantages

To apply for child custody without an attorney is a stressful process, and navigating the legal system can require excessive learning. Not everyone has the time and emotional bandwidth required for representing themselves in court. Litigants without an attorney are statistically less likely to win than represented litigants. Unfair treatment of the litigants is rampant. They are prone to misunderstanding the law or judgment. You may be ordered to pay the other parent’s legal fees if you lose.

 If you decide to file without an attorney, here are some things to keep in mind

Knowing this, to apply for child custody without an attorney, tons of researches and planning is inevitable. Laws vary by state, so be sure to research child custody laws that will apply to you based on where you will be filing .

Therefore, as the individual head into court to represent themselves, here are things to be ready for;

(1)self preparation and close attention to detail is necessary.

(2)also, maintain meticulous paperwork, and understand the laws related to their case. And also consider your mental capacity as you evaluate whether going through this process without the assistance of a lawyer is right for you.

(3)Before you go to court, think about how confident you feel about representing yourself. If you feel apprehensive, consider contacting a legal aid organization near you. Legal aid organizations offer free legal advice and representation to low-income individuals. They can be a great resource and will be able to give guidance reasonable advice before advancement to court.

(4)In as much as the court will consider the best interest of the child when ruling custody arrangement, give careful thought to all of your child custody options. Try to think about your case from the perspective of the court and consider which custody options might be more favorable to suit your child/children’s best interest. Laws vary by state, so be sure to research child custody laws that will apply to you based on where you will be filing. The Department of health of human services in the United States provides best interest standards by state. Also make sure you have a solid understanding of the details, legal hoops like;

Things that could influence a child’s custody decision:

  • Evidence of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
  • Who has been the primary caretaker up to this point
  • The ability of each party to provide for the child’s needs
  • How a custody arrangement would or wouldn’t provide continuity for the child
  • The physical and mental health of both parents and children
  • The living accommodations a parent is able to provide
  • The relationship between a child and a parent

Learning all these will have an impact on your ability to represent yourself well when you apply for child custody without an attorney.

After considering the above, First step to starting application for child custody;

Petition for custody

How to start a case with petition for custody and visitation order;

Fill out the required court forms. When you apply for child custody without an attorney, first retrieve the required court forms and fill them out. Most states should have the required forms online, but if they do not, you can always go to your local courthouse where you plan on filing the case and ask the clerk of courts for assistance. Typically, the court with which you must file will be located in the county where your child has lived for the past six months. Forms to be filled includes:

(1)The Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children. This form will ask for general information including your name and contact information, the other parent’s name and contact information, and the name and address of the court you will be filing in. In addition, You will then list the children who are the subject of this case. You will explain that you are filing for the purpose of determining custody.

(2)Summons. The summons is a document you will attach to your petition and it informs the other parent of their suit. The summons includes important information about responding to the family law case you are about to file. You do not need to fill out any information on the summons, all you need to do is attach a copy to your other documents.

 (3)Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. In this document, you will fill in information about the children who are the subject of the case you are filing, including where they have lived over the past five years, if they have ever been the subject of another case, and if there are any orders in effect that involve the children at issue.


Review your forms

Once you have filled out the three required forms to start a case, you will want to review them carefully. These forms will be the basis of a lawsuit, so make sure they have been filled out accurately and completely. Because you will not have the help of an attorney, consider using some of the free legal resources available to you. For example, you can contact a family law facilitator or a self-help center for assistance with these forms.


File your forms

After reviewing the forms, filing is next and its done in the local court house. At the courthouse, file your forms with the clerk of courts. The clerk of courts will take possession of your forms and will require you to pay a filing fee. Fees will differ from state to state, and even county to county. Filing fee is compulsory for every individual except, Police, directorate of public prosecution, ministry of justice. In the US If you cannot afford the fee, you can always ask for a fee waiver. In order to receive a fee waiver, you will need to show some sort of financial hardship. For example, you could show that you are receiving public benefits or that you do not have enough income to provide for basic necessities and pay the filing fee


Serve the other party
 

When you serve the other party, you will hire a court Belief to give a copy of your filed documents to the other party to look over and respond to. To serve the other party, the person you hire must provide the required documents to them, either in person or through the mail. If someone serves through the mail, it must be sent by certified mail. In the US you hire the sheriff or another competent adult to serve the other party.

Proof of service

Once you have served the other party, you must let the court know. Proof of Service is the official notice to the court. Proof of service forms can be obtained from the court. It shows in detail how, when, where, and to whom papers were served.

Attend court Mediation or Hearing

 Before mediation/hearing is scheduled, the court must wait for a response to your motion from the other party. Courts typically offer three to four weeks for the other parent to respond.

The court schedules a mediation or a hearing once the other party receives a response.

Mediation.

Mediation gives parents an opportunity to work out their disagreements outside of court and allows the parents to have a bigger impact on the decisions made. In mediation, both parents will meet with an expert mediator and discuss their disagreements in an attempt to come to an agreed upon solution. If you and the other parent come to an agreement, the mediator will help you draft a parenting plan and that plan will then be submitted to the judge for approval. Mediation is possibly jumped straight to court Hearing when domestic violence or other abuse is involved.

Hearing.

On your court date, arrive on time. In court, be polite and respectful at all times. Proper court etiquette includes addressing the judge as “Your Honor.” Never interrupt the judge, and if you are uncertain if you may talk, ask the judge if you may speak. Don’t allow the judge to see your anger and frustration. Instead, focus on being pleasant and attentive and presenting the facts of your case. At the court hearing, you can expect the judge to ask you and the other party a number of questions meant to give the judge an idea of who should be the caretaker of the child at issue.

When the hearing has finished, the judge will issue a decision on your case. They will also issue a written order. Make sure you obtain a copy of the written order and follow the order.  The court order is a document with the judge’s decision and this document sets out exactly what the custody arrangement will be and its enforcement. You and the other parent is mandated to follow this order or risk legal ramifications.

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