Responding to a Custody and Visitation Request - Family Court Direct
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Responding to a Custody and Visitation Request

If you are not the moving party in a divorce or paternity action, then you will most likely receive the initial Petition and request for orders from the other party via service by mail or in person. It can be upsetting and nerve-wracking to receive any official court documents, even when you know, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling anxious or upset. Even when you know to expect it, getting served with divorce or paternity paperwork can be jarring, and it is understandable that you will feel unsure and anxious about how to proceed.

Here at Family Court Direct, through our network of independent legal professionals we have experience in facilitating family law documents, and we can also help direct you to the right resources for your family law needs.

Forms and Deadlines

When you receive your Summons or other court paperwork, it is important to review all the documents and note any deadlines. Make a special note of due dates, court hearing dates, and requests for affidavits or supporting paperwork. You should receive blank copies of the court documents you are expected to file. Once you have filed your response, the next step will be a review by the presiding judge in your case. If both parties are in agreement, you may not be required to appear in court and instead can simply comply with the default judgment rendered in your case. If you cannot come to an agreement with the other parent, then you will most likely be required to attend a court hearing so that the judge may hear from both sides before rendering a final verdict.

Agreeing or Contesting

When both parties are able to come to an agreement regarding custody and visitation, the court will usually enter a summary judgment and final orders. Those orders will remain in effect until the minor child comes of age or is emancipated, unless a modification is requested at a later date. In some courts, if the responding party agrees to the petitioner’s requests, a default judgment can be entered by the court with final custody and visitation orders.

If you do not agree with the other parent’s requests, then you can present your own request in a response filed with the court. In contested cases, the court will hear from both parties and then make a final order on custody and visitation based on what is in the best interests of the child. For the courts, “the best interests” is a specific phrase meaning that all custody and visitation orders must promote the child’s health and well-being above all else. This means that the courts will balance the child’s relationship with each parent against the challenges of dividing custodial time between both parties. In other words, as far as the family courts are concerned, the child’s needs come first.

Here at Family Court Direct, we understand that decisions involving your children are fraught with anxiety and concern. By supplying you with tools you need to navigate the family court system, Family Court Direct can help take the guesswork out family court actions and help you to clearly and efficiently present your case to the family courts. Family law matters can be stressful and draining, let Family Court Direct remove some of the burden.