I encourage you to speak with an experienced family law attorney. Typically, you will need to file a Petition in the county where your children reside. However, you will need to serve a copy of the filed Petition on the father. An experienced family law attorney will explain the different alternatives relative to serving the absent father. The process will be lengthly but will be easier if you have someone on your side to assist you with the navigation of the legal system.
Sign up to receive a 3-part series of useful information and advice about child custody law.