How to win a custody battle without a lawyer

Updated March 31, 2017

Although there are no guaranteed methods for winning a child custody case, you can increase your chance of success by following current orders, keeping detailed records, learning laws and court procedure, filing written responses and preparing for court.

Abide by current court orders while you prepare for your custody case, even if you disagree with them. This will show the judge that you are willing to follow written orders while waiting for your hearing.

Keep detailed records of all visits and calls with your child; write them on a calendar or day planner to create a written record for your hearing. If you have any problems with the other parent, such as his or her being late for visits or not allowing visits, be sure to write them down.

Learn your state's current child custody laws by accessing your state's legislature website. You can also visit a law library or Legal Aid office, where you can read about the law, find copies of motions or forms, ask questions and learn about successful custody cases.

Learn local court rules and procedure. Each court has its own rules and procedure for custody cases. Click on the link below to find the rules for your court.

Participate in all evaluations. As part of a child custody case, there may be psychological, social and home evaluations. If the court orders any evaluations for your case, be sure to be available and complete the process. This will help your case move forward quickly and show the judge you are willing to cooperate.

Respond to written motions and requests. Judges must have motions and responses in writing to consider them in your hearing. Double-check all filing dates for responses, motions and requests; be sure to file written responses on time.

Submit exhibits to the court. In most custody cases, there are "exhibits" or evidence for the judge to consider. This can include copies of bills, bank statements, letters, pictures, phone records and videos. Ask the court clerk when exhibits are due; submit copies of all exhibits to the court and the other parent (or his or her attorney).

Prepare for court. A week before the hearing, gather all evidence, exhibits, motions, laws and rules. Write a short summary of your case to read aloud in court, along with key points to remember. Carefully organise all items so you will be able to find them quickly. Hearings are usually 30 to 60 minutes long, so preparation is essential to presenting your case efficiently. The day before your hearing, practice your presentation in front of a close friend or a mirror.

Attend your hearing. Bring all evidence and exhibits, motions, responses and your notes. Dress appropriately; business attire is preferred. Speak clearly, follow all court rules and be sure to address the judge as "Your Honor."


Learn as much as you can about custody laws, cases and procedures. The more you know, the more comfortable you will be in court. Encourage your child to love and respect the other parent.


Never ridicule, berate, belittle or denigrate the other parent in front of your child. This behaviour could harm your child or cause you to lose your custody case.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Printer
  • Calendar or day planner
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Laurel King has 17 years of experience writing in the legal, political and business arenas. Her work has been published in the SunStar, federal and superior courts, corporate newsletters and research briefings. King writes about a wide array of subjects, from technically dense legal procedures to quirky teen habits. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in English from Ottawa University.