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Child Custody

After the Case

Preparing the “Order After Hearing”

1. At the hearing, the judge may tell one of the parents to prepare an “order.” The form to use is:

  • Findings and Order After Hearing (Form FL-340)

This form asks:

  • the date and courtroom where the case was heard,
  • the name of the judge who heard the case
  • the names of the parents and any attorneys who attended,
  • what orders the judge made that day.

Then attach forms for each of the orders the judge issued. For instance,

  • If the judge made child custody and visitation orders, a completed
    • Child Custody and Visitation Order (Form FL-341) must be attached.
  • If the judge made additional orders, these also must be attached. For example:
    • Supervised Visitation Order (Form FL-341(A))
      See the instructions for this form.
    • Child Abduction Prevention Orders Attachment (Form FL-341(B))
    • Children’s Holiday Schedule Attachment (Form FL-341(C))
    • Additional Provisions – Physical Custody Attachment
      (Form FL-341(D))
    • Joint Legal Custody Attachment (Form FL-341(E))

On the forms, the judge's orders must be written out accurately.

2. Then, copies of the forms must be sent to the other parent for approval. Include a letter letting the other parent know they have 5 days to review and approve or reject the forms.

3. If the other parent approves the forms, he or she signs the Findings and Order After Hearing (Form FL-340). He or she then return it to the parent who prepared the documents.

4. Next, the parent who prepared the documents must take the signed forms to the courtroom where his or her case was heard.

5. The courtroom clerk will review the proposed order and give it to the judge to sign.

6. Once it is signed, one parent will need to get the form back. That parent will make several copies of the order so that he or she will have copies to give to the other parent.

7. Then the parent takes the original and all of the copies back to the court clerk to be filed. The clerk will keep the original. The clerk will stamp the copies and return them to the parent.

8. Finally, the parent who prepared the documents is to serve a copy of the file-stamped copy of the order on the other parent.

If the other parent DOES NOT RESPOND within 5 days, the order may be submitted to the court with a request that the court finalize the order without the other parent's approval. Include a copy of the letter sent to the other parent informing him or her of the time limit.

If the other parent DOES NOT APPROVE of the order as prepared by the first parent, he or she may need to to consult with an attorney who has experience in this field.

There are many good reasons why a parenting plan might need to be changed. As the children get older, for example, their needs, interests, and activities change. And as each of the parents moves on with his or her separate adult life, new partners, new jobs, or new homes can all mean that the parenting plan needs to be changed.

Parents may need to renegotiate portions of their parenting agreement every two-and-a-half to three years. If the parents agree on the changes, they can change their court order by using the "stipulation" process.

However, if the parents do NOT agree on the changes, one of the parents can go back to court and ask for what is called a "modification" of the child custody order. If the parents do NOT agree about the changes that need to be made, they must return to mediation before they ask to have a judge look at their new parenting plan.

Either parent can ask the court to change the child custody and visitation orders if something changes. For example, if the medical or educational needs of the child change, if a parent wants to move, or if the child wants to spend more time with one parent, the parenting plan may need to be changed.

Step 1. To ask the court to change the child custody and visitation orders, fill out a new,
UPDATED set of these forms:

  • Request for Order (Form FL-300)
  • Declaration Under UCCJEA (Form FL-105)

Step 2. Before you file the forms with the Court Clerk:

  • Attach a copy of the existing child custody order that you are seeking to change to your "Request for Order."
  • Attach a written statement that tells the judge what you want the judge to order and why that order is best for your child.
  • Make 3 copies of your completed forms with their attachments.

Step 3. File the forms at the courthouse:

  • When you are ready, take your original forms and your copies to the Court Clerk’s office for filing. You may need to pay another filing fee.
  • When you file your papers, the clerk will give you a hearing date.

Step 4. Serve the forms:

  • Have copies of all of these papers – including information about the hearing date - served on the other parent.
  • Also have the other parent served with a blank copy of the forms that they can complete:
    • Responsive Declaration (Form FL-320)
    • Declaration Under UCCJEA (Form FL-105)
  • Have the person who served the papers fill out a Proof of Service form.

Step 5. File the Proof of Service form at the courthouse:

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is proof that the service requirements have been met.
  • The other parent has 9 court working days before the hearing to file a Responsive Declaration (Form FL-320) with the court.
  • He or she should serve a copy of these responsive papers on you.

Step 6. Finish the process:

  • If the parents cannot reach a new agreement on their own they must go to mediation. Then, the parents must attend the hearing.
  • If the parents reach an agreement during mediation, the mediator may prepare a “Memorandum of Understanding” for the parents to sign. This agreement may become a court order.
  • At the court hearing, the judge will consider the new circumstances and make a decision one way or the other about whether to modify the child custody and visitation arrangements.

If the judge decides to modify the child custody and visitation arrangements, he or she will ask the parent who started this motion to prepare an “Order After Hearing." form. It must be:

  • Approved by the other parent;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on the other parent.
  • The Proof of Service has to be filed at the courthouse.

Learn how to prepare an “Order After Hearing in the section "Papers Needed Right After Your Court Hearing."

Either parent can ask the court to change the child custody and visitation arrangements if something changes. For example, if a child who was living with one parent now wants to live with the other, or if the medical or educational needs of the child have changed.

If you were served with a Request for Order which asks to change the custody arrangements:

First, read all of the papers to see what the other parent is asking for. The "Request for Order" states a hearing date, time, and location for you to appear in court.

Then, take the following steps:

Step 1. Fill out this form:

  • Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order (Form FL-320)

Step 2. Before you file the form with the Court Clerk:

  • Make 3 copies of your completed form.

Step 3. File the forms at the courthouse:

  • When you are ready, take your original forms and your copies to the court clerk’s office for filing.

Step 4. Serve the forms:

The other parent must be given formal notice that a "Responsive Declaration to the Request for Order" (Form FL-320) has been filed with the court.

You can use either one of two types of service:

  • The forms can be served by first class mail.
    OR
  • The forms can be served by personal delivery.

REMEMBER: You cannot serve your own papers.

  • Another adult who is not involved in the case can serve the papers.

There are time limits for service of process: The forms must be served on the other parent at least nine court working days before the hearing.

The person who actually served the papers is to fill out:

  • Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she put the forms in the mailbox,
    ORProof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she actually handed the forms to the other parent.

Step 5. File the Proof of Service form:

After the other parent has been served, the completed and signed “Proof of Service” form and at least one copy must be filed with the court.

  • The court clerk will stamp the copy “Filed” and return it to you. This is proof that the service requirements have been met.

Step 6. Finish the Process:

If the parents cannot reach a new agreement on their own they must go to mediation.

If the parents reach an agreement during mediation, the mediator may prepare a “Memorandum of Understanding” for the parents to sign. This agreement may become a court order.

Then, the parents must attend the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will consider the new circumstances and decide whether to modify the child custody and visitation arrangements.

If the judge decides to modify the child custody and visitation arrangements, he or she will ask the parent who started this motion to prepare an “Order After Hearing” form which has to be:

  • Approved by you;
  • Then signed by the judge;
  • Filed with the Court Clerk; and
  • Served on the other parent.