In short, the agreement is not enforceable by a court. A signed and notarized agreement, if drafted properly, is enforceable as a contract between the parties for the distribution of property (equitable distribution) and alimony/support. The law is clear that courts are not bound by contracts with regard to the custody of children.
The court has a vested interest in the best interest if the children, and will never abdicate that responsibility. So, as the thinking goes, if two parents agree in a contract to a custody agreement this is in someway detrimental to the child, the courts will always have the right to ignore that agreement.
That being said, the agreement you describe is not completely worthless. It is effective to prove to a court what the parties had agreed to in the past, thus making it harder for a parent who had custodial rights in the agreement to accused of being unfit to have them in court by the other party.
Additionally, these agreements are often honored by school systems and are useful for other purposes.
Bottom line is your agreement is better than nothing, but the court is not bound by it, and the police will not enforce it in the event of a dispute or violation. If the contract is well drafted, you may have some contractual remedies to violations of the agreement as well.
For either party to alter the agreement or obtain a court order, someone would have to file a lawsuit seeking custody which would give the court jurisdiction to determine custody. Keep in mind as well that while the courts CAN change the custody of children over the parents wishes, they typically will honor agreements between between parents without too many questions. Therefore if you are still in agreement, you would be well served to speak with a family law attorney about have the agreement entered as a custody consent order which would solve your problem. Depends entirely o what your goals are.
Take care and hope this helps. For more information, check out my blog on this topic
The information contained in this response is general information and is not legal advice. Nothing contained in this response should be construed as legal advice or creating an attorney-client relationship between the attorney and the reader. An attorney-client relationship may only be created by express representation agreement between Glenn Doyle of Doyle & Doyle, PA and Client.
I agree in all respects with the advice you received by the other attorney who answered this question. I only want to add to the information he provided about a "Consent Order." Often, when a couple wants their custody agreement to be enforceable as a valid order of the court, then you file a custody claim, and then simply have an order signed by a judge that adopts the terms of the previously drafted custody agreement. If your child's other parent is willing to have the agreement made into a court order, and you talk about this process before hand, you could minimize any surprise the other party might have at receiving a summons for a "custody claim."
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