No custody order, can father keep child if he gets child?

My child’s father (we were never married) and I do not have a child custody order. I have allowed my child to go over to his father’s house for 1.5 years, since the paternity testing. We had a disagreement 6 weeks ago. I want to know if I let me child go over to his father’s, can he keep him from me if there is no child support order? I called my local sheriff and they told me yes he could keep him, so I have not let my child see his father in 6 weeks. also, his father has not asked to see him since that time. I just want to make sure that if I let me child go over during the holiday’s that I can legally get him back. Also, if I type up a document that I have a have sole and complete physical custody of my child and his father gets visitation and we both sign it, agreeing to it, can we get it notarized and file at the courthouse? Thank you so much for your help!!

If there is no order in place, then he will not legally have to return the child. You can draft and notarize an agreement, but it cannot be filed at the courthouse. This would just be a contract and your remedy to get your child back if he refused would be to sue for breach of contract, or sue him for child custody.

Lindsey, thank you so much for your response. Since my first post I called the local courthouse and she said that the sheriff is right (and you) that his father can keep him since there is no child custody agreement. I am horrified and my back up plan of filing notarized papers is like you also said not allowed. the courthouse said that it can only be done in front of a judge. Neither of us can afford an attorney and the filing cost is $120 alone and I have been on disability since 2012 (I am a degreed social worker and was involved in a devastating case that changed my life as a social worker forever and still emotionally dealing with). I do have some experience in representing myself with my older son from my marriage and had to write up my own documents and represent myself while my ex-husband had the best attorney’s in town and now he has custody of my older son. I will not let that happen since I have raised my younger son since birth and his father has only known him half his life and does not even see him it is only the girlfriend that contacts my to see my child. Anyway, so you are saying that I can write up a document, we agree and have it notarized and then we just each keep a copy, So does that still mean that he can keep him but I can take him to court for breach of contract and that could take weeks or months? My other problem is that my son’s daycare will not let his father pick him up only because they have the original copy of the birth certificate and he is not on it, but I called and the new one he is since child support started a year and half ago (when I proved to him he was his child) so if the father finds that out and shows up at the daycare (that would take him getting the birth certificate and give me time) and I would have to take him out of a wonderful free part-time Headstart program that my child loves just so that his father could not get him away from me. I am just so frustrated because I never wanted it to come to this and maybe he does not know he can keep him but I can’t take that chance now. I have let his father see him for the last year and a half until the agreement and now I know this information. This is my worst nightmare, with my older son all over again but in a slightly different way (I have fought for my older son who is 15 for 8 years). I also have a daughter that is 21 that my ex adopted but he never wanted her so I had her, her entire life but he still keeps my middle child (son) hostage. Sorry I am going on and on but I am so scared and don’t know what to do. I will not lose another son. Thank you again soooo much for your information.

Sorry,note* I said agreement at the end about my youngest father it is ARGUEMENT (it was over him not paying the correct amount of child support) and ironically my older son’s case is in your “neck of the woods” in Durham. I am born and raised in Raleigh but live in Mitchell County now. I wish you could represent me up here.