Forms to File for Full Custody of Children in California

By Jeff Franco J.D./M.A./M.B.A.

Whether you’re still married to your children’s other parent, are already divorced or never married to begin with, California always requires the filing of court forms to initiate a child custody case. However, since California allows for two different kinds of custody, neither of which is referred to as “full custody,” you’ll need to determine which type to pursue.

Types of Full Custody

If you want full custody of your children, it’s likely that you want exclusive authority to make all decisions affecting them as well as to have them permanently reside with you. In California, the law separates these two forms of custody and refers to them as “sole legal custody,” which gives you the authority to make decisions, and “sole physical custody,” which allows the children to live with you. However, when filling out your forms throughout the child custody proceedings, you can ask the court to provide you with both forms of custody, sometimes referred to as “exclusive custody.”

Order to Show Cause

In the event you have an existing divorce, separation or parentage case underway or are ready to initiate one, you have the option of filing a California Order to Show Cause on Form FL-300 at any time. An order to show cause tells the other parent to appear in court to respond to your request for full custody of your children. If you go this route, Form FL-310, Application for Order and Supporting Declaration, must be filed with the show-cause form and both must be served on the parent. At the time you file the documents with the court clerk, you will receive your hearing date, which is the date that you and the other parent will appear before a California superior court judge to discuss the custody request.

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Petition for Custody

If you’re still married to the other parent of your children and a court custody order already exists or you are requesting court intervention for the first time, you can ask the court to award you full custody by filing a Petition for Custody and Support of Minor Children, also know statewide as Form FL-260, with the clerk of the court. When filling out question No.5 of the petition, be sure that you check off both legal and physical custody if you’re looking to obtain “full” custodial authority over your children.

Parentage Action Forms

California child custody procedures require parents who aren’t married to initiate a parentage action before seeking full custody of their children. A parentage action establishes that you’re the parent of the children, but it doesn’t result in a child custody award. However, it’s a necessary prerequisite to requesting full custody. To initiate a parentage action, you’ll need to obtain Form FL-200 as well as Form FL-105, the Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. You will need to serve copies of both documents on the other parent, and to do this, you’ll need to fill out a summons on Form FL-210 as well. Once you initiate the parentage proceedings, you then need to file an order to show cause to request the full custody.

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How to File for Child Custody in Ohio

References

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How to File a Petition on Custody and Visitation in the State of California

During a divorce, California courts determine custody arrangements for the divorcing couple’s children, splitting both physical custody (who the child lives with) and legal custody (who makes important decisions for the child). However, parents don’t have to wait for divorce to determine custody issues since California allows parents to establish custody arrangements without filing for divorce.

Forms for Sole Custody in Arizona

As a parent, you may file for sole legal and physical custody of your children in an Arizona county court as long as you, the other parent or children live in the Arizona county where you're filing. The parent with sole legal custody makes major decisions for the child. Physical custody refers to the person with whom the child lives. Having sole custody doesn't mean the other parent doesn't see the children. The court may award the other parent "parenting time," which is court-ordered visitation time. A parent may file a petition for sole custody in Arizona as long as the children have lived in the state for at least six months or since birth; however, the petition you need to file depends on your circumstances.

How to File for Child Custody in California

Parental custody rights and procedures vary from state to state. In California, family courts focus on the health, safety and welfare of the child, basing decisions on what is in the best interests of the child, not the gender of the parent. During divorce proceedings, either parent can file for legal or physical custody of their minor children. In seeking custody, the parent must file child custody forms requesting a court order that awards sole or joint custody.

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