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When a child who is a U.S. citizen is illegally kept outside of this country, the U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues will work with the local U.S. embassy and the other country’s government to assist the child and the lawful custodial parent. However, because child custody disputes are private legal disputes between the two parents, the State Department has no jurisdiction to force the other parent to obey a court order. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, this kind of child custody dispute often must be resolved by judicial proceedings in the country where the child and the other parent are living. The State Department will help the lawful custodial parent to file the appropriate documents with the foreign authorities. It also will monitor and report on the foreign judicial or administrative proceedings.
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If the parties agree on a custody modification, one of the parties must file a “Stipulated Motion for Change of Custody, Parenting Time and/or Domicile” with the FOC. The forms are on this website. Detailed instructions explain how to file this paperwork and the filing fees required for entry of the order.
If the parties do not agree on a custody modification, one of the parties may file a "Motion for Change of Custody" and a "Notice of Disputed Custody" with the FOC. The forms are on this website. Detailed instructions explain how to file this paperwork and the filing fees required.
No. You may file the motion on your own. However, the court will expect you to follow the same rules that an attorney must follow and pay any required filing fees. There are many complex issues in a custody case and most people prefer to have an attorney represent them. The Friend of Court (FOC) cannot file a motion for you, nor can the office provide you with an attorney or tell you what to say in the motion. If you have retained an attorney (for any reason), you cannot file this motion on your own. You must contact your attorney and have him/her do the filing.
Yes. The FOC provides domestic relations mediation when there is a custody dispute and both parties agree to participate in mediation.
The FOC must:
Upon request, and before the court acts on the recommendation, the FOC must give each party or that party’s attorney a copy of the report, including the custody recommendation and a summary of the information used in making the recommendation.
No. The FOC does not have the authority to investigate child abuse or neglect. Child abuse or neglect should be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services-Child Protective Services Division in the county where the custodial parent and child live.
You may withdraw your motion by completing a “Withdrawal of Motion for Change of Custody” form found on this site.
You may request a DeNovo Review by the assigned Judge by filing an “Objection to Referee’s Recommended Order." The form is on this website. Detailed instructions explain how to file this paperwork.