“Child custody papers” is a very broad term that can encompass a variety of documents related to a child custody case. For example, “child custody papers” can include both child custody forms and child custody orders.
Child Custody Forms
Many states have child custody forms that a parent needs to fill out and file with the court in order to begin a child custody case. There are also forms that a responding parent needs to fill out and file in order to respond to the initial filed form. What these forms look like and what information is required on these forms depend on the state that you are in.
Child Custody Orders
Child custody orders are court orders that establish the child custody arrangement. They are issued after a divorce hearing or a child custody hearing. Information that might be included in a child custody order includes:
- Who gets physical custody of the child/children;
- Who is granted legal custody; and
- The visitation schedules.
Are Child Custody Orders Necessary for Child Custody Arrangements?
Even before the legal proceedings, the parents have some sort of informal custody arrangement worked out between them. Consequently, a court order is not absolutely necessary for working child custody arrangements. However, for the custody arrangement to be binding, a court order is necessary. In short, a court order is necessary in the case of a child custody dispute between the parents and/or guardians.
Can a Child Custody Order be Modified?
A child custody order can be modified in a couple of ways. One way is if both parents/guardians agree to the modification. Another way is if the judge grants a petition of one of the parents/guardians. In the latter case, the judge would take into consideration the circumstances of the child or children’s living situation. Factors that the judge may consider for the modification of a court order include a parent/guardian’s new job, special needs recently developed by the child/children, change in circumstances that impact the parent/guardian’s suitability to raise the child, etc.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Child Custody Forms or Modifying Child Custody Orders?
Filling out child custody forms or requesting a modification of a child custody order can be complicated. Parents who are already stressed with the situation may not want to go through the legal process without some help. Speaking with a child custody lawyer can help demystify the process.