How to Apply for Sole Temporary Custody

Updated March 23, 2017

Obtaining sole custody of your child or children requires more than a simple request: you must petition the court and get a judge to approve your custody application. A judge reviews all the circumstances of the case and must determine what is in the best interest of the child. A judge may order sole custody in cases in which the parent is deemed unfit such as in cases of child abuse, alcohol or drug abuse.

Call or visit your local clerk of the court office. Ask for the petition to request sole custody. You may also locate and download a blank petition on your state's family court website.

Complete the petition. Fill in your information as "Petitioner" and the other parent's name under "Respondent." List the reasons you are requesting sole custody, giving details, dates and as much specific information as you can recall.

Return the petition to the clerk of the court. You may be given a court date immediately or you may be notified later. Ask the clerk of the court if you are required to serve the other parent. If so, follow your state's rules on serving, and have him served. Serving often requires a person over 18 and not involved in the court case to serve the court papers, in person, to the other parent.

Arrive for your court date. Explain to the judge exactly why you are requesting sole custody. Have as much proof of your statements as possible. If you have witnesses who have witnessed behaviour or events, have your witnesses present and prepared to give testimony. Bring photos, tape recordings, e-mails, letters or any other proof to back up your claims. The stronger your testimony and documentation, the stronger your custody case will be.

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About the Author

Living in Denver, Lynndee Marooney has been writing finance and credit-related articles, guides, manuals and e-books for private companies since 1995. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Maryland. She enjoys counseling clients who are experiencing financial difficulties.