A guide to filing for child custody without a lawyer

Going through a divorce can be extremely stressful and filled with emotional upsets. This is especially true when child custody is a factor. If you are thinking about going through this process and you are not in a financial position to get lawyers involved, it is possible to do this all on your own. Here is a guide that will prepare you well for all that lies ahead.

Getting Started

  • The first thing you will need to do is get in touch with a court clerk in your area to ask them how you go about obtaining the paperwork that needs to be filed. Let them know that you will be going through this process without a lawyer since the paperwork for this is a bit different than it would be if there was an attorney on your side.

In some cases you will be directed to a website where you can download and print the forms on your own. There are some areas that require you to head to the courthouse in person to get the forms. When you call the clerk they will let you know what steps need to be taken.

  • Research needs to be your best friend at this time. If you do not have a law background, it can be really difficult to sift through all of the case law to determine what needs to be used during the course of your claim. For instance, if you are in a state where a father was granted custody because the mother was in the military and this applies to your situation, you can use it to your advantage.

  • Figure out what level of child custody you want to seek. Are you seeking sole custody where the child will live with you and only be allowed to see the other parent during scheduled times, or would you rather split the time equally so both of you get the same amount of physical time with the child.

When it comes to figuring this out, it is best to take the child’s feelings into consideration. Many people do not and they end up making a choice that is not necessarily beneficial.

Handling The Case Well

  • You will need to keep accurate records of everything that happens while you are going through the custody battle. Some details may seem trivial, but they might end up being useful some time in the future. For instance, if your former spouse has a habit of having dates spend the night, it may help you later since it can show that your child is not always in the best environment.

Even though you are trying to show that you are a more fit parent than your ex, this does not mean that you should submit accounts that are blatantly negative and derogatory in nature. Instead of making them look bad, you will actually make yourself look bitter and unhinged. These are two traits that will not win you any popularity contests with the presiding judge.

  • Make sure that all paperwork is filed promptly and pay close attention to deadlines. If you submit anything past the date specified, you will be doing yourself a huge disservice. Not only does this mean that you may have to resubmit your entire claim, but it shows everyone that you are not as responsible as you claim to be.

  • If at any point you feel like you are in over your head and you may actually need some legal help, you can reach out to advocacy groups in your area to see if they can assist. Always consult with someone that is in your local area since the laws are not the same in every state. You do not want to move forward based on the advice of someone who has it all wrong since everything is different in your particular jurisdiction.

Going To Court

  • Do not talk to you children and convince them to say disparaging things about your former partner. This is a mistake and it can come back to bite you in the rear. This is even worse if the things you are asking them to say are not even true. If there is any indication that you have coached your children in a negative way, it can backfire. As a result, you may end up on the losing end of your custody battle.

  • Stay calm when you are presenting your side of the story. While this may seem like a really difficult thing to do, it is necessary if you want to be taken seriously. Losing your temper and exposing your negative feelings in a courtroom setting can damage your case irreparably. While you may believe this proves you have passion for your children, it may actually make people start to question your mental stability.

  • Stay strong. This is probably one of the most difficult things you will have to remember to do along the way. Some people are so flustered by the process that they give up and allow their exes to take custody. If you truly care for your children and you feel that you are the best one for them to live with, then you need to focus on that goal and continue, even when it seems exceptionally hard.

Keep in mind that you can file an appeal if things do not turn out the way you want them to. At that time, you may want to hire legal help since you did not so that the first time and the result was not what you wanted.

Custody battles are difficult to fight, especially when you are trying to handle the case on your own without hiring an attorney. With that said, there are people who do this every day and they are successful, so there is hope. Make sure that you follow all of the advice that was offered here by Dean Hines, if you want to increase your chances of doing well during this trying time.

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