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Can a Notary make a Parenting Agreement Legal?

I am often confronted by parties that want an agreement notarized with the expectation that a notary somehow legalizes a document. It's very important to understand what a "notary public" can and can't do, especially in the legal context.

In Michigan, the most common duty of a notary is to assure the authenticity of a person's identity and signature. This often involves a notary checking the photo ID (driver's license or passport) of a person and comparing that to the person in front of them as well as the signature. A notary may stamp the document or sign a prepared notary section in the document.

A notary does NOT magically "legalize" a document or make it "official". A notary verifies the SIGNATURE of the party, NOT the document itself. In basic terms, a notary verifies that the person or people signing the document are who they say they are. If a document is illegal or false prior to notarization, that document will remain illegal and false, even if a notary notarizes the signatures on it.

Often, parties will sometimes want to draft custody agreements, notarize them and assume they are valid. This unfortunately isn't the case. The only custody, divorce or other document that is enforceable is an official Order signed by a Judge and entered with the court. Do not try to do these documents on your own.

Attorney Allison Greenlee Korr handles family cases in the counties of Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Van Buren and St. Joseph, call today for a consultation. 269-381-4471


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