Free Forms for Pro Se
If you are going through a child custody suit be aware that these forms are NOT designed to protect your rights to your parental rights. Before they take advantage of you and you enter your forms, find out how your fundamental parental rights can protect you from spending thousands of extra dollars on discovery, and save you from the cost of approaching your suit with the belief that you have to fight the other parent in order to keep your rights. Training
The link to the pro se family court forms from the states are set up to streamline the process for the court and to make the court cases move faster for the court’s benefit. The family court’s idea of efficiency may mean that you get thrown into a process that takes advantage of you and sucks you dry of all of your assets and financial resources. If you value everything you have worked hard to earn and save and want to keep spending your time and money on developing your child, you will want to alter the forms that you use from your state and add the protections you need to win your equal child custody without being taken advantage of or having to destroy the other parent or face destruction yourself.
As an example, some forms make presumptions, like in California and Idaho (just to name a couple), where they provide you limited choices and make you believe that the only things you can ask for are what they provide in their check boxes. You can actually write your own forms and use their format as a template. For instance, you must have certain things like a header on your motion or pleading a specific way and signature blocks, acknowledgements, as well as certain certificates and sometimes an affidavit and sometimes notarize some of the forms. (You find those in your local rules of civil procedure. For instance, in California these would be called California Rules of Civil Procedure or CRCP. Every state has a Rules of Civil Procedure. Just put the name of your state in front of it and google it and you will find yours. The best source for rules is the highest court in your state, “supreme court” in most states. This is the best way to make sure that it is the most recent version of the rules. If you are not sure, you can call your local law library or legal aid self-help center and ask them which version is the most recent.
Make sure that you take out anything in the form that is going to disadvantage you in the court. If it is a pre-fillable form, cross it out if it cannot be deleted. You can even re-type the portions of the form that you want into a Word document and create your own form. Just remember not to leave out anything that is required by statute like the certificates, signature blocks, and any acknowledgments required by your court.
Remember the motion/pleading/form is guiding the court and telling them what you are asking for and what law that should guide your request. The law that you use will determine what relief you can get. If you do not want to waive your right to ask the court to protect yours and your child’s rights, then you might NOT want to check the box that says you are asking the court to make a best interest decision for your child. Colorado has this box under number 19 on their JDF 1101 pro se form:
You might want to add a section to #19 that says that you are asking the court to recognize that you have made the constitutionally protected free association choice to dissolve the marital relationship and you are asking the state to record this officially. You might also want to cross out anything that says you are asking the court to make a best interest of the child determination and replace that with a statement that you are seeking a declaration of your equal parental rights and your child’s equal rights to you and that you are asking for a parenting plan that is the least restrictive on these fundamental rights.
We offer training packages and motions packages that help with the specifics of these requests. We have a sample petition that shows you how to articulate your rights and requests of the court in a way that better protects your rights than the standard forms you are likely to find. While our materials are training aides not forms, they will help you better express your desire to have your rights protected and to have an equal relationship with your child.
Be aware, if you use a form that says you want the court to grant or allocate your rights, the court may see this as you are consenting to the court to skip over constitutional guarantees that protect you from the court taking your rights. This is called waiver. While we disagree that this is a sufficient waiver, there is no reason to make things more difficult on you than necessary. Why make it harder on yourself than necessary. You can just replace the words with “protect” your rights and your child’s rights and take out “grant” or “allocate.” Idaho has this in their form under number 6 and 7 on the CAO D 1-5 Petition for Divorce with Children form.
You might want to cross out the word “awarded” and “allocate” here and add in “protect” and also change “It is in the best interest of our child/ren” to language you can learn in reviewing our petition insert.
You can use these forms to provide you with the basic format and legal requirements for filing in your state. Using these forms does not mean that every rule or statute that you need is listed in these forms. Make sure that you read the rules and statutes and know what you can ask for and what you cannot. The other side can ask the court to sanction you if you file something that the court is not authorized to do or if you ask for relief that the court cannot give you and especially if you attempt to contact the court without noticing the other side. It is usually best to cite the rules that allow you to ask for what you are requesting. Doing this when you first make the request stops the other side from responding in a way that makes you do more work defending what the rules allow you to do. They will do everything to confuse you and make things more difficult. It is best to do it right the first time.
Below are links to the free forms we know of identified by state. (After you get the forms, get our sample motions and petition. Then use those arguments that apply to your case, adapting them as needed to the facts of your case, by inserting them into the forms or by adding additional pages to the forms and referencing those pages in the form field.
If you know of a source that we don’t have listed here, please share with us so we can help others.