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If a Custody Order has already been entered which gave her mother primary physical custody and you want to pick up your daughter tomorrow, you must have her mother sign a paper or anything, just as long as it states that she is consenting to your taking your daughter for as long as you are planning on having her with you. You must do this to protect yourself.
If this is not done, and her mother changes her mind for any reason and turns against you, she can say anything, including your refusal to bring your daughter back to them. I've seen this happen and you will find yourself in a legal mess without having done anything wrong.
While the mother is in a "giving" frame of mind, you can do either of two things:
1. Have a Custody Agreement drawn up quickly, both you and the mother sign it in front of a notary and then file it with the Court; and/or
2. File a Petition to Modify Custody, get a hearing date, have the mother agree and at the time of the hearing, tell the Judge you and the mother agreed to switch roles, i.e. you have primary physical custody of your daughter and the mother has her on the days you used have your daughter. It will be entered as a Court Order. And when a few weeks have gone by and things have settled down, you can file a Petition to Modify Child Support and ask that it be terminated since you now have primary physical custody.
Just be sure your daughter is not playing one parent against the other, or her mother told her to do something that she didn't want to do and thinks that she will be getting away with more by living with you because if this is the case, when you tell her to do something she does not want to do, your daughter may do the same thing again - call her mother and say she does not want to live with you.
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ANDREA, JD, LLM
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For purposes of picking up your daughter, for now, yes you can draw up your own agreement and you do not need your signatures notarized. It can be very simple. Although it is not legally necessary to do so just to pick up your daughter, I highly recommend it because it saves will save you from a lot of heartache in the event the mother changes her mind in mid-stream and wants to get back at you for something - I have seen it happen.
For the long term, if you take the Custody Agreement route or file a Petition to Modify Custody, I would suggest you have something a little more formal since it will be filed with the Court and a document on which you are relying for your custody rights.
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