My ex and I have established an agreement with custody of our daughter and want to know how to make it legal. Do we go to mediation? Do we have to go to court? Please let me know what has to be done to put our order on paper and legalized.
Is there a divorce action pending? If so, you can set forth that custody agreement in your stipulated judgment. If you are not ready for judgment, you can draft a stipulation and order regarding your custody agreement and file that with the court. Otherwise, to take advantage of the court's free mediation services, you would need to have a motion pending regarding custody. i.e. when a party files a request for order re custody, the matter is first referred to mediation before the hearing date. Otherwise, you are free to hire a mediator or a lawyer to put your agreement in writing by drafting a stipulation or settlement agreement.
The short answer is no, you do not need to go to mediation if you have already reached a full agreement. What you need is either a stipulated order, or a judgment, depending on the permanency of your agreement. If you intend this custodial arrangement to be a final, permanent (absent a change of circumstances), agreement you will need a judgment. The type of judgment you require, and the steps needed to achieve it, will depend upon whether you and the other parent are legally married. I recognize that this may not fully answer your question, but is the best I can provide with the facts available. I would strongly suggest that you consult with an attorney, or that you and the other parent jointly retain a mediator who is an attorney, to further advise you concerning how best to proceed.