Here’s what to do next.
Step 1. Fill out the forms.
Review the forms carefully and complete all required information. Please check with the court to see if they require any additional forms.
Ohio law says that before a court can order custody to a non-parent, the adult seeking custody must show that the parents are “unsuitable.” A parent is considered unsuitable when the child is unsafe or unsupported. Include information about why the parents are unsuitable and why you are requesting custody when you complete the forms. Ohio law also requires that you name all “necessary parties,” including the biological parents and any other person with legal custody of the child. Read more about non-parent custody to learn more about completing the forms.
Step 2. Take your forms to a notary.
Once your forms are complete, do not sign them yet. Some of these forms require that you sign them in front of a notary. The forms that require notarization are generally called “Affidavits.” Take them to a notary and sign the forms in front of them. You can find notaries at banks and some courthouses and libraries, or search for "notaries near me" on Google.
Step 3. Make photocopies.
After you sign and notarize your documents, make at least one copy for your records.
Step 4. File.
Take the forms and copies to the Clerk’s office at your [token court type] Court. Do not include this cover page with the forms you submit to the Clerk's office. If you have any questions about your forms, ask. Clerk staff can help make sure everything is complete but will not be able to help you fill anything out. If your court has a self-help center, go there first.
Step 5. Complete service.
“Service” is when the Court officially tells the “necessary parties,” about your filing. About 2 weeks after you file, you will need to follow up with the Clerk’s office to make sure that service was completed. Your case cannot be heard until service has been completed. Read more about completing service for non-parent custody.
Step 6. Attend all hearings.
After you file the case, the court schedules a hearing. If service is unsuccessful, the Court may reschedule the hearing. If service is unsuccessful, contact the court to see if the hearing must be rescheduled.
Make sure to open your mail and pay special attention to any hearing dates included on communications from the Court. Read more to learn how to prepare for your hearing
Read more about kinship caregiving in Ohio, including court processes and benefits, to understand all of your options and the supportive services available.