Custody Paternity & Child Support
Getting the Final Custody Decree
This page is for cases that started with one person filing for custody against the other. Do not use the forms on this page if you filed a Joint Petition for Custody. For instructions on how to get a custody decree approved if you filed a Joint Petition, please see Filing for Custody Together.
If neither you or the other parent has filed a case yet, you must first File for Custody and follow all of the required steps.
The final step in a custody or paternity case is having a judge sign a final decree. This is the document that includes all of the final custody, visitation, and child support orders. You are responsible for preparing the final Decree to finish your case.
How a Final Custody/Paternity Order is Granted
There are three different ways that a final custody order is usually granted:
By Default: If the Defendant was served with the summons and complaint, but did not file any paperwork within 21 days, the Plaintiff can ask the court to enter a default and grant a final custody order. The Plaintiff may have to go to a short hearing with the judge to have the final custody orders approved. If granted, the Plaintiff will typically get a Custody Decree that includes everything asked for in the complaint. Follow ALL of the steps below if you would like to get a Default Custody Decree.
By Agreement: If both parties reach an agreement on all terms after the case has been filed, they can prepare a final Custody Decree together with their full agreement included. Both parties must sign the Custody Decree, and can usually submit the Decree to the judge for approval without a hearing. Start at Step 2 below if this applies to you.
Granted at a Trial or Hearing: When the judge grants a final custody order at a trial or a hearing, the judge will decide all of the final orders. However, the case is not final until the written Custody Decree is signed by the judge. Usually, the judge tells one party to “prepare the decree.” Start at Step 2 below if you are finalizing a custody order after a trial or hearing.
Follow these steps to get the Final Decree approved:
1. Obtain a Default if Defendant did not file an answer. There are several forms to fill out and file to get a default approved.
2. Fill out the final forms. There are several forms you will have to fill out to get the judge to finalize your case.
3. File the forms. Turn the completed forms in to the clerk of court.
4. Wait for the judge to review your forms. Turn in a proposed Decree of Annulment for the judge to review. The judge may want you to set a hearing if the judge has some questions.
Read about each step below.
If Defendant did not file an answer within 21 days of being served, Plaintiff can request a default to finalize the case without Defendant.
If your case is in Churchill, Lander, Mineral, or Pershing County, you must send Defendant a final notice before requesting a default. Fill out this form, file it, and send a copy to Defendant. If Defendant still does not file anything by the deadline (plus 3 days for the mailing to reach them), proceed to the next form.
For all: Fill out both forms below and submit them for filing. The Clerk of Court will sign the Default if approved.
For all: Fill out the application below and file it at the court. If Defendant has filed anything into the case or indicated that they plan to oppose the case, you will need to mail this form to the Defendant and allow them 7 calendar days (plus 3 days for mailing to reach them) to file something before you can go on to the next step.
The following forms must be completed to get your final Custody Decree:
- Request for Submission. If you want a Custody Decree without having a hearing, fill out this form. This form asks the judge to approve of the Decree without a hearing. Only one party needs to complete these forms (usually the Plaintiff).
- Child Support and Welfare Identification Form.
This form is required, and helps with child support enforcement in the future if needed.
The Decree. The decree is the final order that includes all the final orders. How you fill out the decree will depend on how you are getting the final decree:
- If you are getting a Default Decree: Everything in your proposed decree should match everything you asked for in your complaint.
- If both parties are signing the Decree: The decree must include all of the agreements between you and the other parent. You both must sign the decree.
- If you are submitting a Decree based on a hearing or trial: Everything in your proposed decree must match everything the judge ordered at your hearing. Make sure the proposed decree includes everything the judge ordered. The Custody Decree below includes all final custody, visitation, and child support orders.
Custody Decree (pdf fillable)
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If you only need a paternity order to update a birth certificate: Complete the Paternity Order below. This will make changes to the name of the father and/or the name of the child, and can be used to get a new birth certificate issued.
File all the documents above except the Custody Decree with the court. Submit the original Custody Decree to the judge.
The judge will review the decree, and if the judge approves, the judge will sign the decree. If the judge has some questions, the judge may want you to set a hearing. Follow any instructions given by the judge.
Once the judge signs the Decree, make sure the Decree is filed at the clerk's office if the judge did not file it for you. The filing date is on the upper right corner of the first page of the Decree and is the effective date of the order.
The date this form gets filed is the date that starts the timelines for anyone to appeal. After you receive the signed and filed final Custody Decree, you must fill out the Notice of Entry of Order and attach a copy of the Custody Decree.
File the Notice of Entry of Order (with a copy of the Decree attached) with the court. Be sure to fill out the Certificate of Mailing at the bottom, because you will have to mail a copy of this form to the other party the same day you file it.
Make a copy of the Notice of Entry of Order (with the Decree attached) and mail it to the other party. You can mail it by regular mail.