How do we transfer child custody without a lawyer?

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Question:

My 14-year old son's mother has custody of him, and his child support is deducted from my check every pay period. The mother now wants my son to live with me. What steps can I take without a lawyer to transfer custody and stop the deduction of child support from my paycheck?

Answer:

To get this transfer done right and to protect yourself in the future, you'll need to draw up an agreement between you and the child's mother. You can do this without a lawyer, but you'll need to present this agreement to the local court for a judge's approval. If you try to skip the court altogether, you put yourself at risk. More often than you'd imagine, the parent giving up custody changes his or her mind after a while and then denies there ever was any agreement. In that case, the parent accepting custody can get stuck with paying back support even though the child has been living with him or her during the whole time period.

Make sure the agreement says that each of you intends that your son's legal and physical custody be transferred from his mother to you and that all child support will cease as of a specific date (which you'll choose and include). The agreement doesn't have to be in fancy legal language, it just needs to make the important points in writing and include both your full names and that of your son. Then be sure you both sign the agreement in front of a notary public.

Forward the agreement to the court that handled your divorce and include a letter asking a judge to adopt it as a court order. Also ask the judge to make an order canceling the deductions from your paycheck. A sympathetic judge will give you what you need to take to the payroll office and cancel the child support. An unsympathetic judge may tell you that you need to hire a lawyer for the job. But in truth, it is a very simple procedure and you should be able to get the court to do the necessary paperwork.

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