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Legal custody determined which parent will make decisions concerning the
child’s or children’s heath, safety, education, and welfare. One parent
can make these decisions alone, which is known as sole legal custody or
both parents retain the right to make these decisions, known as joint
legal custody. Joint legal custody means both parent should cooperate and
decision-making, but that either parent has the power to make decisions
alone. Sole legal custody means only one parent can make decisions and
obtain information from the child’s or children’s school and doctor, for
Physical custody determines where the child or children will reside. Sole
physical custody means that the child or children live with one parent and
visit the other parent. Joint physical custody means the child or
children reside with both parents. In the case of joint physical custody,
if one parent will have the child more than half of the time, then that
parent can be called the “primary custodial parent” for tax and other
Visitation: The parent who does not have the child or children more
that have of the time is entitled to visitation with the child or
children. Visitation plans should be specific in order to avoid potential
conflicts and eliminate confusion. In developing a specific visitation
plan, keep in mind that it can be helpful to be specific about which weeks
of the month visitation will occur to make the plan more enforceable. For
example, if a parent has the child or children ever other weekend, it
would be helpful to define that specifically as the 1st, 3rd,
and 5th (or the 2nd and 4th) weekend.
The pick-up and drop-off times should also be specific, such as Friday at
6:00 pm to Sunday at 3:00 pm.
Visitation: This option is used when the child’s or children’s safety
and well-being require visits with the other parent be supervised by you,
another adult, or a professional agency.
This option is used in extreme situations in which contact with the parent
would be physically or emotionally harmful to the child.
If you already have
a case open in Kings County, you may not necessarily need to be concerned
with residency requirements. However, if your case is in another county
or state, there are special rules regarding your custody orders.
Depending upon where the other parent resides, among other considerations,
you may be able to move your entire case to Kings County. If you are from
another state, you may want to register your out-of-state order in
County under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
for the purposes of enforcement, and possibly, modification. Before
considering any of these actions, it is recommended that you seek legal
advice regarding this very technical area of the law.
The Petition for
Custody and Support of the Minor Children is used in very limited
circumstances (Judicial Council form FL-260). You may only use
this method of obtaining custody and support orders if there is no other
case that has been filed anytime, anywhere regarding the children of this
relationship. You may file this petition if you are married to the other
parent and do not wish to file for a divorce, legal separation, or
nullity, or you are not married to the other parent and you and the other
parent have signed a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity regarding each
child. Be aware that if you are married to the other parent and later
decide that you would like to file a divorce, legal separation, or
annulment, you will have to file a new case and pay another filing fee.
After the Petition is filed, you may proceed as you would in any other
case where you are asking for custody and support orders.
After an action for
dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or paternity has been filed in
court, you may proceed with filing the necessary paperwork to obtain
orders to establish child custody, visitation, and/or support.
of forms are available at any one of the
clerk’s offices. The clerk’s office is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm,
Monday through Thursday and on Friday 8:00am - 11:30am excluding court holidays.
If you wish to make
a request for court to modify an existing order, you must file the
appropriate “Notice of Motion” or “Order to Show Cause” paperwork with the
court. The Order to Show Cause Packet is $15.00. The Notice of
Motion Packet is $10.00.
In Family Law cases,
court orders can be obtained only after the appropriate paperwork is
filed, a hearing is scheduled, and notice of hearing is served on the
other party allowing him/her sufficient time to file a response. These
hearings occur in open court in front of a judge. In limited situations,
where there is an emergency, the judge may grant a Temporary Order to be
in effect only until the hearing in open court. A Temporary Order is only
issued to deal with an emergency that cannot wait for the normal hearing
Requires 24 Hours’ Notice
To obtain a
temporary order, the proposed restrained person must be notified of the
hearing you just requested. Someone other than you not involved in
this action and over the age of 18 must notify the other party of the
date, time, and location of the ex-parte hearing by
the day prior to the hearing. The notification may be done personally or
by telephoning the other party.
The person who
provides the notice must also file a declaration with the court, prior
to the hearing, that they notified to other party of the ex-parte
hearing. The declaration must include:
name of the person who provided the notice; that they are over 18 years of
age; and not a party to the pending action.
name of the person they notified (this must be the proposed restrained
the notice was provided
If someone call the
proposed restrained person on the telephone (include the telephone number
personally told the proposed restrained person (include the address at
which the information was given)
time and date the notification was provided.
information was provided regarding the hearing to the proposed restrained
person, for example~ the time, date, and location of the hearing.
declaration must also contain the following language immediately before
the signature line, “I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of
the State of California that the foregoing it true and correct.
and sign the declaration
The notice must be
given in all cases unless it is established that there will be an
immediate threat of danger or harm if notice is given. This can be
established only in rare cases. It is the general policy of
the Family Law court that judges do not make temporary orders unless both
sides have had an opportunity to be heard.
For assistance with
your paperwork, you may see the Family Law Facilitator (during his posted
hours) or seek the advice of an attorney. Click
to see the Family Law Facilitator's schedule.
An Order to Show
Cause packet is available for $15.00 at any one of the clerk’s offices
within the County.
Family Law documents
may be filed in person or by mail. You must reserve a hearing date in
advance of filing any documents.
presented for filing must adhere to the following guidelines:
Pleadings will not
be filed unless they comply with the California Rules of Court, Rule
2.100 et seq., which requires that all documents presented for filing be legible
and either typed or printed.
copies of documents will be returned by mail unless a self-addressed
stamped envelope, with sufficient postage is provided.
presented for filing must be pre-punched in the standard two-hole
position at the tip of the document.
A copy will only be confirmed if it mirrors the
Only 3 copies
of each document will be conformed.
reservations are required for all pleadings requiring a hearing date.
Filings paid with
checks that are returned for non-sufficient funds be void if not paid by
cash or certified check/money order within 20 days of notification
(411.20 Code of Civil Procedure).
There is a fax
filing agency that is approved to submit papers to the court through the
use of a fax. You may contact Official Payments Corporation at
800.487.4567 for more information.
For Family Law
filing fees or other court filing fees, please click
NOTICE: If you
are unable to pay fees and costs, you may ask the court to permit you to
proceed without paying them. You will need to complete a Request
to Waive Court Fees (FW-001) and an Order on
Waiver (Superior Court - FW-005) by clicking on the above blue
highlighted links or you may ask the clerk for a copy of these
forms. They are available at no cost.
If you have decided
to represent yourself, you have taken on the responsibility of knowing the
procedures and timelines in relating to your paperwork and appearances in
court. You may want to learn about the rules you must follow in the
Code of Civil Procedure, the
Kings County Local Rules, as
well as the
California Rules of Court. You can find those resources in
the Kings County Law Library or click on the above blue highlighted links. You can also purchase the Local Rules for
$10.00 from the clerk’s office.