Is there any way to get child custody determined without a court order? 21 Answers as of June 20, 2011

Is there any way to get child custody determined without a court order or at least without an expensive attorney? If both parents agree on a parenting plan and sign and have it notarized, is there any legality to it? Or any document you can use in that manner?

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Beresford Booth PLLC
Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
The Court will typically grant an agreed order regarding custody and parenting arrangements provided it is in the best interests of the child.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/20/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
The only "legal" way to do it is through a court.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 6/20/2011
Glenn E. Tanner
Glenn E. Tanner | Glenn E. Tanner
The court will consider such agreements but it is the court that decides parenting plans. You don't have to have an attorney to get a parenting plan. You don't have to have a parenting plan but the father could then disappear with the child and you'd be in trouble then.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 6/17/2011
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
For the agreement to be legally enforceable, you will want to have it done through the courts. You do not necessarily need a lawyer to this.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 6/17/2011
Beaulier Law Office
Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
If the parties have an agreement on custody and parenting time, an action may be commenced and a Stipulation and Order submitted to the court for its review and entry as a Order. Although you may require an attorney to draft the relevant documents, it would be significantly less costly than a contested proceeding, or, for that matter, attempting to draft the documents yourself and doing so incorrectly.
Answer Applies to: Minnesota
Replied: 6/17/2011
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C.
    Theodore W. Robinson, P.C. | Theodore W. Robinson
    Yes, both parents can do exactly that, HOWEVER, in my experience of 37 years, it is cheaper in the long run to use attorneys because they know what has to go into such agreements and theymore often get it done right than when to regular people try to write up something that they want to be binding upon both of them for about twenty years hence. Usually, when you don't know exactly what you're doing, it's likely that you'll leave something important out or get it done wrong. I strongly suggest you use an attorney, just not an expensive one. Try a legal clinic at a law school or a low cost attorney who advertises low fees. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Michael Rose Attorney at Law
    Michael Rose Attorney at Law | Michael Rose
    A notarized piece of paper is not a legal document. All it says is that the person who signed it is that person. An agreement between the two of you is not enforceable without the stamp of the court. Do it right and then the terms that you agree to, or the judge sets, will be in writing and if one parent doesn't bring back the child you have remedies.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Any agreement between the parents is good for as long as both parents agree to it and continue comply with it. As long as you never disagree or are able to solve disagreements on your own, there is no need for a court order. The problem is that unless it is approved by judge and effectively converted into a court order, there is no way to enforce the agreement if later on one parent decides not to comply. So, the question is not "is it legal?"; the question is "can you be sure both parents will always honor the agreement?" A big problem in answering that real question involves how good you are at predicting the future and guessing all the kinds of things that you and the other parent might disagree about in the future. Experienced lawyers can help you develop a parenting plan that answers the most common questions that might come up in the future that you aren't aware of right now.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Deal & Hooks, LLC
    Deal & Hooks, LLC | Shawn P. Hooks
    Custody as you are describing it must be established by an order of a court. If there is an agreement it is entirely possible that you can do this without an attorney or without paying significant attorney fees. It is still a good idea to consult an attorney about drafting and submitting an Agreed Entry to the Court establishing custody and setting forth the issues of visitation and child support. Assuming there is an agreement this should not cost you that much money. The expensive fees take place when there is a dispute and multiple court hearings and discovery take place.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    The best way to insure that you have an enforceable agreement/parenting plan is to have it entered by the court. In terms of avoiding the cost of an attorney, that is going to depend on you. Everyone has the right to represent themselves, if they want to. However, that is not always a good idea. It will depend on each of your ability to deal with the rules and details about getting a parenting plan entered. If you have that ability, then, you may be able to do it. If you don't, then, you are probably better off spending at least some money on an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Vermeulen Law office P.A.
    Vermeulen Law office P.A. | Cynthia J.Vermeulen
    The short answer is No. Custody of children cannot be legalized, at least under Minnesota law, by an agreement between the parties which has not been approved by the court as part of a custody or divorce case. There are many resources in Minnesota for you to handle this process without an attorney, however, since your children's futures are involved, it would be best to have legal representation in order to receive advice and guidance on issues you may not have considered. Not all attorneys are expensive, however, experienced, well-qualified attorneys often charge more.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    Under Washington law, in order to be enforceable a parenting plan needs to be entered as a court order. If it has been signed but not entered, it would be a factor for the court to consider when it is asked to rule on a parenting plan, but if one party is then objecting and requesting a different plan, the court could consider that as well. You can represent yourself in court, or you could hire an attorney just to prepare the papers you need but not to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    The question isn't the development of the parenting plan. Question is its enforceability. You can develop a contract that would be enforceable regarding the upgrading of your children. But if one of you breached the contract, your remedy would be in civil law through a very expensive enforcement process. On the other hand, if you had a parenting plan that was adopted by either the domestic relations or juvenile court, if one of you breached the contents of the plan then your remedy would be a motion show cause in the court she will establish to the plan. The cost to be much less would be something either of you could do. Everyone tries to avoid hiring an attorney. Often times, the money seven attorney is saved many times over what it will cost you to clean up the mistake. I recommend you make an appointment with a local domestic relations counsel immediately.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Florida does have self help forms at our clerks office and they are accepted by the courts.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    The simple answer to your questions is that, yes, we handle many uncontested divorces all the time involving child custody, at very affordable rates. You should find a Georgia divorce law firm which can help you accomplish your goal of an uncontested divorce. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/ChildCustody/childcustody .htm
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C.
    Fredric H. Aaron, Attorney at Law, P.C. | Fredric Harlan Aaron
    Issues of guardianship can be addressed by the parties without requiring a court order. However, as with any issues regarding matrimonial and family law issues, you should consult an experienced attorney to advise you of your rights and to draft the proper documentation necessary to put your "parenting plan" into place.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 6/17/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    It is best to have a court order regarding custody, but it isn't always necessary to have a trial or hearing to establish custody. If you have a pending paternity case, you and the other parent can prepare, sign and file a Stipulation and Order setting forth your parenting plan, the Order on which the Judge can sign. If you don't have a pending paternity case, you should file and serve one, and then prepare, sign (and have the other parent sign) and file a Stipulation and Order as noted above.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    It has to be signed by a Judge to be enforceable. That doesn't mean it has to cost a lot of money, though. If you are in my area and are looking for an attorney, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller
    Law Office Of Jody A. Miller | Jody A. Miller
    You need a court order - even a signed and notarized document does not confer legal, binding custodial rights. I realize lawyers may be "expensive", but I get phone calls all the time from people who represent themselves in a legal process and then come into a world of trouble. It is much better to spend some money up front to get the process done right, than it is to "fix" a legal matter handled pro se (and sometimes things can't be "fixed" - even by a lawyer - after a legal case is handled improperly by a layperson).
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/16/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Neither child support nor custody (nor a parenting plan) is legal unless a court has ruled on them. I am not sure why you are worried about costs, because, if you are both agreeable, the legal fees are quite low.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/16/2011
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