Steps for Filing a Parentage Case

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If you have decided to start a parentage case with the court, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out your court forms
    Fill out these forms (and, remember, that because you are starting this case, you are the petitioner):

    If you want the court to make orders about custody and visitation, you can also fill out the Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment (Form FL-311). It is an optional form (you do not have to use it), but you may find it helpful in making sure you do not leave anything out of your request. It contains a lot of detail about schedules for visits, holidays, and other details that can help you as you try to do what is best for your children.

  2. Fill out 1 of these court forms too if you want a child support order:

    Read Which Financial Form — FL-155 or FL-150? (Form DV-570) to find out if you can use the simpler Form FL-155.

  3. Have your forms reviewed
    Ask your court’s family law facilitator to review your paperwork. He or she can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.

    You can also hire your own lawyer to review your papers or to get legal advice, either with your entire case, or just the parts of it that you may need more help with (called “limited scope representation” or “unbundling”). Click for help finding a lawyer. Click to learn more about “limited scope representation.”

  4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
    One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your child’s other parent. The original is for the court.

  5. File your forms with the court clerk
    Turn in your forms to the court clerk. He or she will keep the original and return the copies to you, stamped “Filed.”  One copy is for you and the other is for the petitioner (the other parent). You will have to pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver.

  6. Serve your papers on the other parent
    Serve the other parent in person with a copy of your papers and a blank Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (Form FL-220) and a blank Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120 | video instructions ). Also serve a blank Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150) if you are asking for child support.

    Service is very important, so you must do it correctly. Click for more information about service.

    IMPORTANT: If the child's other parent is deceased, there are special requirements for serving the papers. Click to find out who you must serve if the child's other parent is deceased.

  7. File your proof of service
    Have your server fill out a Proof of Service of Summons (Family Law — Uniform Parentage — Custody and Support) (Form FL-115) and give it to you so you can file it with the court. Keep a copy for yourself. It is very important your server fills out the proof of service correctly. If possible, have your family law facilitator review it to make sure it was filled out properly.

  8. Wait 30 days for the other parent to respond
    The other parent (called “the respondent”) has 30 days from the date he or she was served with the petition to file a response with the court. Depending on whether the respondent responds within those 30 days or not, your next steps will vary and your options will be explained under Finish your case.

    Now that you have an open court case, you can ask for court orders for custody, visitation, or child support. Click if you need:

If you have already followed all these steps, you need to Finish Your Parentage Case.

If your child's other parent has taken these steps, and you need to respond, you need to Answer a Request to Establish Parentage in Court.