Can custody be determined legally between parents and then brought to court to be simply signed by a judge?
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
In any divorce or other custody matter, only a judge can determine custody by court order. In most cases, parties can reach an agreement and submit it to a court. A judge is not required to accept such an agreement. The chances of it being accepted depend on the facts of the case it is filed in, and on the use of an attorney who knows how to properly draft the agreement, and all the requisite other papers, which may include parenting plans, child support paperwork, etc.
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Family Law Attorney
A custody arrangement between non-married parents is not valid (i.e. enforceable) unless there is a court order memorializing the arrangement and making it official. Said order does not have to be "decided" by the court. It is possible/acceptable for the parties to reach an agreement and that agreement be made into the order of the court.
It is advisable that you consult an attorney to have your documents drafted. This is the best way of ensuring that the proper documents are completed properly.
I hope this information helps answer your question(s).
~ Kem Eyo
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.