If you can agree on shared custody, do you still have to go to court? 4 Answers as of November 17, 2010

I am splitting up with my girlfriend. We are unmarried, and we have come to an informal arrangement to split all of our stuff, so we do not need to go to court. However, we have a child. We worked out an arrangement that essentially allows us to have joint custody. Do we have to go to court to make our arrangement official, or do we have equal legal power as it is?

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Goldberg Jones
Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
You do not need to go to court and appear in front of a Judge, but it would be smart to have a Settlement drafted by an attorney and submitted to the court as an Order. You should discuss this in detail with an attorney. A simple Settlement can usually be done without too much expense.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/17/2010
Law Office of Curry & Westgate
Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
You must file a paternity action and formally have a custody order filed with the court to be legal. call office and make appointment.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/17/2010
Michael Apicella
Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
If you and your girlfriend live in California, than yes, you need to formalize the agreement with your local county court. In your situation (not married), your matter is called a Uniform Parentage Action (UPA). To open a UPA case with the court, one of you needs to file a Petition to Establish Parental Relationship with the court clerk.

It is not possible in my answer to spell out the entire process to finalize your case. However, you can go to the self-help center at your local courthouse for free assistance. If you want better legal service than that provided by the self-help center, then you should consult with a local lawyer who can advise and guide you through the entire process.

As an aside, it is good that you have reached an agreement with your girlfriend, as that will make the process much easier. Yet, you still have to go through the legal process nonetheless. Please note that because you said there is no disagreement, and assuming no disagreement crops up requiring a judge's order, neither of you will have to go to a court hearing. Instead, you will file various papers with the court clerk stating that you and your girlfriend are resolving your case via agreement, including setting forth the terms to your agreement.

Feel free to contact my office for further assistance.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/16/2010
The English Law Firm
The English Law Firm | Robert English
You have an agreement but it is not fully enforceable if either party chooses to go against it. I would recommend opening a case so that you can get a formal order.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/16/2010
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