How to Sign Over Child Custody Rights

Judges do not make custody decisions in all divorce, legal separation, paternity or similar types of cases. Rather, in many instances, the parents reach decisions regarding custody through face-to-face negotiations, according to "Child Custody A to Z" by Guy J. White. There is a specific procedure in place in all states through which you sign over your custody interests to the other parent. A transfer of custody is effective only if the process set forth in state law is followed.

A mother with her son in the kitchen. (Image: MIXA next/MIXA/Getty Images)

Step 1

Obtain a standard form custody agreement. You should be able to obtain such a form from the clerk of the court where your divorce, paternity, legal separation or other type of case is filed.

Step 2

Include a specific statement that you desire to relinquish full custody of your children to the other parent. Note that you intend to include both physical and legal custody in the relinquishment, if that is your intention. Physical custody is the right to provide a home to the children while legal custody is the right to make major decisions for the children.

Step 3

Insert the names, dates of birth and current location of your children to avoid any confusion about the extent of your intentions to sign over child custody rights.

Step 4

Set forth the agreement between you and the other parent regarding visitation with your children. You are entitled to visitation, also known as parenting time, with your children even if you surrender custody to the other parent.

Step 5

Include a statement in the agreement that you desire to sign over custody as your "free and voluntary act."

Step 6

Sign the agreement in front of a notary public. Both you and your spouse must execute the document for it to become effective.

Step 7

Submit the document to the judge for final approval.


Singing over child custody is a major step with serious legal consequences. Before you take this type of action, consider engaging the services of an attorney to represent your interests. The American Bar Association maintains resources to assist you in finding a lawyer (see Resources).

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