Can someone give legal custody of a child without an attorney using a notary? 36 Answers as of May 29, 2013

A friend of mine is wanting to know if her daughter can give custody of her child to her without an attorney preparing papers. Can she print off a form for her and her daughter to sign in front of a Notary? Can that be used in court? My friend's daughter is in trouble with the law and is on probation. They told her the courts may take her child from her and put him in foster care. My friend does not want this to happen and would like custody of him before the courts decide to take him away. She cannot afford an attorney and was wondering if there is a way to have custody transfered to her without one.

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Blough Law Office | Janis L. Blough
A power of attorney may suffice, but since it can be revoked by your friend's daughter at any time, it may be questioned in court. Alternatively the child's mother could consent to a temporary guardianship, but a judge would have to approve it. If a petition is filed to remove the child from your friend's daughter's care, your friend needs to insist on notice of every hearing and appear and offer to take over care of the child. Good luck!
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/11/2012
John Russo | John Russo
NO, and NO, and NO again.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/13/2012
Snake River Law PLLC
Snake River Law PLLC | Mark Petersen
No. Custody cannot be transferred by a notarized letter. Only a judicial order can establish custody rights.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 8/13/2012
Law Office of Melvin Franke | Melvin Franke
No, but she can give a one year power of attorney
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 8/13/2012
Law Office of Charles M. Vacca Jr. | Charles Martin Vacca Jr.
You need a court order for custody, nothing less, nothing more!
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 8/13/2012
    Slotnick & Schwartz
    Slotnick & Schwartz | Leonard T. Schwartz
    No. While your friend does not need an attorney she does need a Court Order transferring Custody. She should speak to the Family County Court to see if they will assist her.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 8/10/2012
    Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 5/29/2013
    Alvin Lundgren | Alvin Lundgren
    A petition to adopt or for custody must be filed. Daughter should appear to waive custody. Then the court will grant custody. You should seek for free legal aid.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/10/2012
    Elkouri Heath, PLC | Symantha Heath
    The short answer is no. A change of legal custody only occurs when there is an order entered by the Court that has jurisdiction over the child. A notary does not have the authority to enter orders or represent individuals in court. A party may decide to represent themselves and not utilize an attorney but only a judge after a hearing may change legal custody.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/10/2012
    Dennis P. Mikko Attorney at Law | Dennis P. Mikko
    Legal custody of a child lies with both the biological mother and father. If the mother cannot continue as the custodial parent, the father would then have rights. In this case, the mother cannot sign a piece of paper in front of a notary to change custody. The matter would have to proceed before a court. If there is a threat that the child may be taken and placed in foster care, the grandmother should make it known that she is ready, willing and able to assume custody if her daughter cannot continue. Generally, placement with a family member is perferred over foster care.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Barbara Fontaine, Esquire | Barbara Fontaine
    You might have her try to file for custody in Family Court, by herself. You may also pay an attorney for some advice on how to do it.
    Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr.
    Grace Law Offices of John F Geraghty Jr. | John F. Geraghty, Jr.
    Try a legal forms website for the State where she resides. Search for Public legal forms in the browser.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    You need legal documents. Even if she cannot hire an attorney she can go to the courthouse and get the forms needed to do a guardianship and fill them out. Just because you cannot afford an attorney does not mean that there is no other options to get this done.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins
    The Law Offices of Dave Hawkins | Dave Hawkins
    NO not without the biological father's consent and court approval.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Ezim Law Firm | Dean Esposito
    You can use a document to grant another provisional custody by mandate which is simply executed by the parents and party receiving custody before a notary. It is not filed with the court, is only good for a maximum time period of one year, and can be revoked by the parents granting custody at any time.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    T.K. Byrne | Timothy K. Byrne
    These custody matters will have to be reviewed and signed off by a Judge regardless of who prepares the forms.
    Answer Applies to: Mississippi
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli
    Law Office of Robert D. Rosanelli | Robert D. Rosanelli
    The parent may sign a Power of Attorney and give her parental powers to another person. That can be done without an attorney. That process does not restrict the rights of the other parent to file for custody.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    There is no way to "informally" - without a court order - change custody. It must be done through the court system and while you don't need an attorney I would not recommend doing it without one. If both parents agree, an alternative would be to have both patents sign guardianship of the child over to someone else; while this is a formal process and must be done through the courts, it is easier to do without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    The simple answer is that "No, a parent cannot give legal custody" to someone else. A parent can delegate legal authority to someone else with the intent that that person will have physical custody and responsibility to care for the child; but, that is not the same thing as "custody" decided by a court. The parent can revoke that delegation at any time and it is not binding on the other parent. In the facts you describe, there is nothing the mother can do that will prevent child protective services from becoming involved if that agency believes that the child is in danger, has been abandoned or neglected. However, the fact that a grandparent is caring for the child (and not the mother) will probably discourage the child protective services people from getting involved simply because mother has criminal charges. If the grandmother wants to obtain the legal status that can only be modified by a court, she needs to consult an attorney to discuss all the relevant facts and determine what her options are for seeking judicially ordered "custody". Note, in Colorado the proper terminology no longer uses the word "custody". Instead, the judicial proceeding is one to "allocate parental responsibilities".
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Glenn E. Tanner
    Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
    A child is not a piece of property in which someone has "custody." Regardless of who the Mother gives "custody" to, the courts or the State of Washington will do what is best for the child. The Mother can give authority to someone else to care for and control the child but the State can still take the child if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    Papers would have to be filed in court for guardianship. You may be able to get a waiver of fees if your income is low. The papers are on line at the California Judicial Council's website.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Salladay Law Office | Lance Salladay
    She can give a power of attorney to act on her child's behalf, and her daughter could sign a paper that says she appoints the grandmother to be the child's guardian and that should be notarized, but that is all. If she really fears losing the child the grandmother should apply to be appointed the guardian for the child.
    Answer Applies to: Idaho
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Clos, Russell & Wirth, P.C. | Gary A. Russell
    Only a parent can have "custody" of a child. Anyone else would need to seek guardianship through the probate court. There is no requirement that a person retain an attorney. Of course, an attorney is educated and experienced in areas of the law and can assist a person in navigating the court system and the rules of procedure to hopefully obtain the relief that is being sought.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC | Galen M. Hair
    The best thing to do is to have the grandparent file suit for custody and submit a consent judgement to the court.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    The proposed method of changing "custody" would have no legal effect whatsoever. Sounds like there are number of serious legal problems in that family.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Victor Varga | Victor Varga
    An attorney is not required in civil matters, but I would highly recommend that you have one, as this will be a complicated matter. In short, no, she cannot transfer custody. What she needs to do is file for Guardianship.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Darrell B. Reynolds, P.C. | Darrell B. Reynolds
    No it can not be done that way.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    WARM SPRINGS LAW GROUP | Elliott D. Yug
    Arrangements such as what you are talking about are done all the time and they are not legal. The only way to transfer custody of a child is for a court to issue a custody order. An alternative is guardianship. Best practice is to use an attorney and do things right. One of the problems with informal custody and guardianship arrangements is the person who has custody has no legal right to sign for medical care, school, insurance, etc. Also in your case the father may come in and interfere.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Mike Yeksavich | Mike Yeksavich
    I will not make any response one way or the other to this. Child custody is to important to play around with "forms" without an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Leonard A. Kaanta, P.C. | Leonard A. Kaanta
    You give another person a power of attorney to act for you for your child, but you cannot give up custody with going to court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Dungan, Lady, Kirkpatrick & Dungan PLLC | Michael Dungan
    You need a court order to change custody. However, Mom could place the child with another responsible adult, and provide the custodian with a Parental Power of Attorney, or Mom could file to give the custodian a limited guardianship with the Probate Court.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    She can try, but it will have minimal legal effect without a court order. I would mot strongly suggest an attorney, however they, like you, cannot work for free. In our economy, generally, you get what you pay for. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    R & S Law Group, LLP
    R & S Law Group, LLP | Melissa Roudabush
    She can do a power of attorney for childcare.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A
    R. Jason de Groot, P.A | R. Jason de Groot
    There are a host of family law forms at flcourts.org. The ones you want deal with temporary custody by extended family. Both parents must consent. I hope this helps.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/9/2012
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq.
    Law Offices of Stephanie Lee Ehrbright, Esq. | Stephanie Lee Ehrbright
    If she lives in Maricopa County there is a Self Help center at the Superior Court locations and also online where she can find the forms she needs to file and instructions to them. http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/superiorcourt/self-servicecenter/
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 8/9/2012
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