If you have a child(ren) and you are not married to the other parent, you may file a case to establish parentage. This means you are asking the court to say who the parents are.
You are also allowed to ask for child support, custody and visitation orders at the same time. Either parent or the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) can file this kind of case.
Because a parentage action says who the parents of a child are, it can give the child the right to support, claim inheritance or Social Security benefits.
Remember: you are asking for a parentage judgment, not just custody or support orders.
NOTE: The person who starts the case is the Petitioner. The other parent is the Respondent.After you complete the forms, make 2 additional copies and bring them to the Lamoreaux Justice Center to file them. If you need help, go to a Self-Help Center for assistance. You may also attend a workshop:
If you are filing parentage forms with a Request for Order AND you are not asking for emergency/temporary orders, then file your papers at the Family Law Clerk’s Office (Lamoreaux Justice Center, room 706).
When you file your forms, the clerk will ask you to pay a fee. If you do not have enough money to pay the fees, ask the clerk for a fee waiver packet. Fill out the fee waiver forms, and turn your forms in to the Family Law Clerk’s Office. You may qualify for a Fee Waiver.
IMPORTANT: The Petitioner (the one who initially files) cannot serve the papers. For the purpose of this section, it is assumed that you are the Petitioner.
You must have someone personally serve the other party with copies of the forms you filled out and filed. The person who serves must be an adult (over 18) who is not a party to the action, or you may pay a professional process server (you can find one in the telephone book) who will serve the papers for you.
After serving, the person who serves the papers must complete a Proof of Service of Summons (FL-115). This form is then filed at the courthouse where the case was opened.
Note: (The above FL-115 form’s URL currently links to Court SmartForms: http://www.occourts.org/forms/smartforms/FL-115.pdf)These are the forms you need to serve:
File the original Proof of Service at the Family Law Clerk’s Office at the Lamoreaux Justice Center.
If you need help filling out these forms, go to the Court’s Self-Help CenterIF YOU NEED A TRIAL:
If the other party files a Response to Petition to Establish Parental Relationship (FL-220) and asks for a blood test or does not agree with the custody and visitation orders you asked for, you will need a TRIAL. To get a trial date, either party may file an At-Issue Memorandum for Trial Setting (L-0031). If you have orders from an Order to Show Cause Hearing, these orders are only temporary and you still need a trial or agreed upon judgment to finish your case.
If both parties agree, you can prepare a stipulated Judgment which is a judgment by agreement or when you go to Court let the clerk or the judge know that you have an agreement. The Self-Help Center can give you procedural assistance and forms for filing a stipulated Judgment.
If the other parent does not file a response within 30 days of being served, you can request that a default be entered and that a hearing be set.These are the forms you will need to fill out and file:
Prepare one original and one copy of Memorandum for Setting for Hearing (L-0124). Prepare two self addressed envelopes, one for you and one for the other party.
TIP: You can use SmartForms to prepare the Request To Enter Default (FL-165) and Income and Expense Declaration (FL-150) to file from your computer. If you do so, do not forget to send in or deliver your Memorandum for Setting for Hearing (L-0124) so that you will get a court date.
You will get your court date in the mail and you will need to bring a prepared Judgment to the Default Hearing. If you would like your documents review, visit the Self-Help Center well in advance of your court date.These are the Judgment forms you will need to fill out and bring with you: