If you have started your divorce process and have come to the issue of child custody, you must understand exactly what you will be dealing with and wrap your mind around exactly how to proceed to that you serve the best interests of your child at all times.
The first thing that you will want to understand is the difference between legal and physical custody. If a parent has legal custody, that means that they can make decisions on behalf of the child for important matters, such as education, religion, health, care, the child’s welfare and other important decisions. If a parent has physical custody, that means that the custody determines where the child will live and how much time they will be with each parent.
How do I proceed if I want custody of my child?
If you wish the court to grant you custody of your child, you will need to complete a Complaint for Custody and request of the court that it grant you custody. You will need to file the form in Circuit Court in the state where the child lives or where either of the parents lives. You will need to make a copy of the form for the other parent and one for yourself.
There may be a fee to file the form but each state is different so consulting your attorney about this is probably helpful. If you have heard the term, “service of process,” it means that the person who files the complaint is responsible to give copies to the other people involved. However, you are not allowed to provide the copies. Someone must provide them on your behalf. Please keep in mind that this is an important step in the process.
What do I do if I have been served with a Complaint for Custody paper?
If this is the case, you will need to respond to the form and you will do that using form CC-DR-050. There will be boxes on the form to “admit” or “deny” statements that were made in the Complaint for Custody. If your concept of custody is very different from what the other parent believes, you can also file a counter-complaint. You will be responsible to mail copies to the other people involved. Once you receive the complaint, you have 30 days to respond.
If your deadline passes and you have not responded to the complaint, it is possible that the person who filed the complaint may ask for a finding of default. If the court agrees, it will issue an Order of Default. Then, the custody case will be heard and finalized without you.
Divorce is difficult
The divorce process and all that is involved with it can be very difficult for everyone concerned. Child custody is an important part of that process and your child’s best interests must always be first. It is important to remember that you will be on your way to a happier existence, one in which everyone is happier. Legal support is important so that you protect your rights and those of your child and the rest is up to you.