Thank you for the additional information: i am not married and how would i establish paternity. the only thing i have done is to fill out the declaration of paternity document at the hospital Response: You have thus established formal paternity of the child. So, there is nothing else to do with regard to that. Your Question: what are the steps i would have to do before i go to court for cutody Response: Since you have already established paternity, you would need to file Complaint for Custody and Visitation and request for joint custody or sole custody, if it is what you want . You have to tell the Court the reason that you are requesting for custody. The complaint would be filed in the Courthouse in the County where the child resides. The forms for filing the Complaint are available at the Courthouse in the Clerk's office. In a custody case, the Court would make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child by looking at the living arrangement of the parties to the custody dispute, their lifestyles, associations, parenting skills, education opportunities for the children, etc. If the Court finds after reviewing these factors that the children would be better off living with you, the Court would rule in your favor. Otherwise, the Court would rule in the mother's favor. So, it is very important that you tell the Court any and all reasons why the mother should not be allowed to have custody of the child; any witnesses should be brought to the Court to testify. You should also tell the Court why you should be awarded custody of the child. Remember that the Court can only make decision based on the evidence presented to the Court.
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