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Custody Forms

Divorcing or unmarried parents involved in child custody cases typically consult a wide variety of resources and file a number of documents with the court.

In this article, you'll learn about child custody law. At the end of this article, you'll find links to official forms and additional government resources for all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Continue reading for a breakdown of issues related to child custody, including the forms that are involved. It's important to note that child custody forms are used to establish the type of custody and the terms of it that you and your child's other parent will have over your shared child.

Types of Custody

When parents split up, there is always the question of what decision-making powers either parent will have when it comes to their children. Parents may split up by a variety of means, including legal separation and divorce. From time to time, one parent might even file for a restraining order against another parent in cases of domestic violence.

In some states, when a restraining order is involved in determining a custody arrangement, a court may place a custody order within the list of mandates with which the respondent named within the order must comply. The respondent is the person against whom someone is seeking protection with a restraining order.

Regardless of what means parents use to separate, how custody arrangements are decided tends to be distinguished between legal custody, physical custody, joint custody, and sole custody.

It's important to note that “physical custody" is a fairly outdated term. In most jurisdictions, “physical custody" has been replaced by terms like “parenting time" and “visitation rights." The type of custody will always be addressed in custody forms.

Generally speaking, "joint custody" refers to the sharing of decision-making authorities over a child. "Sole custody" refers to exclusive assignment of decision-making powers or time with a child to one parent. However, it's extremely rare for a family or probate court to remove a parent entirely from a child's life.

Depending on the nature of your parenting plan and whatever a court also decides concerning each parent's rights, how you share a child after a separation can be quite complicated.

When it comes to the sharing of minor children in a custody arrangement, parental responsibilities and decision-making authorities are central to the way a couple handles raising their children after they have separated.

Legal custody tends to refer to rights to make the major decisions in a child's life. Examples of such decisions include where a child will go to school, what medical treatments they will undergo, and what religion or cultural practices the child will observe.

"Parenting time" and "visitation" tend to refer to the time a parent spends with their child in person. A visitation order lays out the terms of how, when, and where a parent may spend time with their child in person.

Child custody and visitation issues can be very complicated, and FindLaw's resources on these subjects can help a great deal.

Child Support

Child support is an important part of any custody arrangement. Getting or maintaining child support can be a confusing and stressful process. For example, when a parent doesn't follow a court order requiring that they contribute to their child's welfare, it often falls upon the other parent to pursue the appropriate legal channels for restoring compliance with a support order.

Whatever the case may be, custody forms will also address the terms of child support with which you and your child's other parent must comply. There are a variety of court forms associated specifically with issues of child support. However, custody forms will still also establish the terms of support, as well.

Custody Forms

As was mentioned above, custody forms are used to establish the type of custody and the terms of it that you and your child's other parent will have over your shared child.

Consider reviewing the following resources to locate various child custody forms:

You can also review state child custody laws, where you'll find links to the laws of every state and the District of Columbia.

However, keep in mind that custody issues can be very complicated. While these resources and links to forms may be helpful, it's always advised that you seek the assistance of an attorney.

Need More Help? Contact an Attorney Today

It can be a confusing and stressful process to handle any custody-related issue. Consider contacting a qualified family law attorney near you today. They can assist you with any issues related to custody forms and custody in general. Their legal advice will be very helpful in handling any child custody matter.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Custody & child visitation cases are emotional, and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Lawyers can seek to secure visitation rights

Get tailored advice and ask a lawyer questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

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