Steps of the Custody Process

Getting started:

Overview of the custody process, by location
Every location has a different process, so we wrote up the guidelines for each location separately. Choose your location to learn more.

Filing for child custody the right way — All U.S. states
To get your child custody case started, you have to file the proper forms. Follow these five steps to file in your state.

Forms for child custody and visitation: Free online documents
Filling out child custody forms marks the beginning of a long process.


How to prepare for child custody mediation
The first thing you should do is explore parenting schedule options. But that's not all you should do to prepare for mediation.

How to get a skeptical spouse to the mediation table
If your spouse is on the fence about joining you in mediation, you may be able to convince them to give it a shot.


Preparing for court: What to expect at a hearing
You'll want to be fully prepared for your first child custody hearing. These tips will help you get ready.

How to prepare for child custody court
Tips on preparing and presenting a parenting plan for court.

Child custody evaluations: What parents need to know
Learn about these assessments done by mental health professionals.

After a ruling:

Modifying your parenting plan, schedule or child support
Information about modifying court orders like a parenting plan, parenting time schedule and child support award.

Enforcing custody and child support orders
Here are your options for getting the other parent to comply with custody orders.