Divorce with Children

The Process

Here is a general overview of how a divorce with children works. Note that each state has different processes and uses different terminology for child custody and visitation. As a paralegal service provider, we can provide document preparation services for both divorce and separation.

  1. Divorce petition: Custody and child support are part of your application for divorce (your application to start your divorce proceedings).
  2. Emergency Commands: If your children are harmed, you can ask the judge for an emergency hearing and for restraining orders to protect your children.
  3. Divorce Agreement: If you have sole custody of your child, you can include it in your divorce settlement and ask the court for approval. A judge will ensure that it is in your children's best interests. You must make decisions on everything from who your child will live with to decisions about schooling and health care.
  4. Mediation: Some states and counties require parents to participate in mediation for custody and visitation. During mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a neutral mediator who will help you reach an agreement on custody/parenting plans/visiting.
  5. Court hearings: If mediation is unsuccessful or unnecessary and you cannot reach an agreement on your own, your case will come to a hearing before a judge. You have the opportunity to present your side. The judge can ask mental health professionals to consider what's best for your child and can even appoint a guardian adjudicator to represent your child's best interests. You may have numerous hearings during your divorce. If it takes a while to get the final custody decision, the court will issue custody orders and child support orders that you and your spouse must comply with.
  6. Divorce decree: The judge will make a final decision about your divorce, including orders for custody, parental leave/visit, and child support.
  7. Appeals and Amendments to the Divorce Decree: If you disagree with the court order, there are ways to appeal the decision. If there are significant changes in your life that affect custody or child support, you can ask the court to change the order by filing (with the court) an application for a change in child support or child support.

Can I get an amicable divorce if I have children? You can divorce amicably with children if you and your ex agree on the following:

  • The physical retention percentage (usually 50/50)
  • Parental leave (does one parent have children on weekends or certain public holidays?)
  • Parental responsibilities (driving to school activities, vacations, buying clothes, paying for insurance or cell phones, etc.)
  • Who makes the big decisions (school, health, religion, etc.)
  • Child Support Payments and Payment Schedule
  • You must also agree on all other divorce issues such as division of assets and alimony.

Agreeing on these issues at such a difficult time is not easy. It may take some "off the record" negotiations to reach an agreement. Once you both agree to the agreement, you can skip the argument in court or mediation and make the plan official.

Because there are so many details to consider when it comes to child custody, many people choose to have their divorce settlements reviewed by attorneys before taking them to court. This is called a restricted-scope representation.

Can I appeal the court orders if I have children?

Most judges are open to appeals regarding child support payments, changes in your financial situation, insecure home situations, or finding more or less time with your children. A lawyer can show you how best to approach these matters and how your situation is likely to turn out.

It's hard to predict what life will be like after divorce, so it's common for parents to renegotiate child support and custody when life changes. The arrangement that made sense for your preschooler will likely need to change when they turn 16, want a car, and need auto insurance.

Divorce paralegal services falls within the category of family law.

When To Use a Paralegal

  • Legally prepare divorce forms for you.
  • Instruct where divorce paperwork needs to be filed.
  • Tell you how to serve divorce forms to your spouse.
  • Assist you in filling out state-specific forms for modifying child support or alimony.

A Paralegal cannot give legal advice or go to court and advocate for you the same way a divorce attorney will. The cost for a paralegal is usually less than an attorney.

divorcing couple

Related Services


Divorce with Minor Children

Divorce without Minor Children

Divorce Response

Divorce Amendment

Child Custody and Visitation

Child Support

Legal Separation

Marital Settlement Agreement


Family Law

Child Custody and Visitation

Child Support


Legal Separation


Call (559) 819-0224 or email ja@acrosstownotary.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.