How to File a Family Law Habeas Corpus Petition

By George Lawrence J.D.

gavel image by Cora Reed from

Family law disputes often involve high emotions and irrational behavior. The court rules and procedure during a divorce strive to prevent unruly situations from occurring. If a parent or other person has wrongfully seized or detained a minor child, the person who has legal right to the minor child (usually the mother or father of the child) may file a writ of habeas corpus to try and have the custody dispute brought before the court.

Step 1

Check with your local court or a local family law attorney to determine which court has jurisdiction to hear your writ of habeas corpus. In New York, for example, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the writ; in Georgia, the Superior Court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Step 2

Write the case caption at the top of the writ. Write the name of the court, the county and the state where you are filing the action. Write your name as "Petitioner" and write "v. [Person wrongfully detaining child]" as the "Respondent."

Step 3

Title the document "Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus." Center the title and write it beneath the case caption.

Step 4

State the grounds for the motion. Explain who you are, who has your child and that your child is being wrongfully detained. Ask the court to issue a writ of habeas corpus to force the child to come before the court so that the custody issue can be resolved.

Send a copy of the document to the court clerk in the court with proper jurisdiction. Include information about where the respondent is so that the court can serve the person with a copy of the document.