In some scenarios, especially when you as parents cannot agree on custody, a judge may demand to have declaration letters from both of you.
Another scenario where you may need to write a letter to a judge, or a court is to testify on the character of the parent whom you want to recommend the court to grant him or her as the custodian of the child.
In this case, you are a witness that the parent that you are testifying for is of good character based on the facts that you are presenting to the court.
Why You Should Write a Child Custody Letter
As we have mentioned, there are different letters that you may want to write to a judge or are obliged by the judge to do so. The reasons for writing a letter would depend on the type of letter that you are writing as we are going to address below.
Any form of a letter of child custody that you may want to write to a judge should be in the right format and presented in the right manner.
All the facts should be stated objectively and in a concise and precise manner. Before we discuss the procedure on how to write a letter of child custody to a judge, let’s look at the different types of letters that you may want to write and the reasons why. It includes:
- Character reference letter
- Declaration for child custody
- Child visitation letter
Character Reference Letter
This is an indirect letter that is written by a third party or another person who is not directly involved in the case. It can be a relative, neighbor, or anyone who can vouch for the behavior of any of the parents. It can serve the court in determining the outcome of the custody case.
Declaration for Child Custody
This is an obligation where the parties involved are not in agreement over the custody of the child. The judge may require both parents to present their case in writing, and in some courts, these writings are used to help determine the case.
The parents should, therefore, be objective and detail all the facts, their capabilities, and other things that would be helpful to the court.
If you are writing this kind of letter, you can consult a lawyer to help you know what exactly is to be detailed. But in most cases, it is an easy task, especially if you have kept a child custody journal.
While presenting your facts, you should be truthful and never accuse the other parent. Instead, point out the facts that can make the judge rule in your favor, without bias and malice. Don’t even discuss your relationship with the other parent in a letter since it is not about you, but about the child.
Child Visitation Letter
Any parent may write a visitation letter to a judge on matters that they want to be addressed. It could be that one parent, whether custodial or non-custodial, is no longer following the directions issued by the court regarding the visitation or wants the court to consider other things that may have arisen over a particular period like child support or living arrangements.
How to Write
To write any letter to a judge or a court, you should always make it formal and write things that will be useful to the court. In some instances, depending on the nature of the court, these letters may be used to rule on the outcome of the case without further trial or hearings.
Therefore, you should have a plan on the right way to state facts objectively and in agreement with the requirements of the court.
1. Have an Outline
This is something you can normally do yourself. You shouldn’t need the assistance of a lawyer or attorney to draft a letter of this kind. However, if you aren’t confident enough to detail it yourself, check the court website for resources.
Different courts may have different requirements for these kinds of letters. Therefore, it is important to research and even get a court supplied template to help you in writing.
2. Introduce Yourself
Once you have the correct outline, the first thing to write is the introduction of yourself. Give details of your name, your lawyers name, the case number as well as the other party involved.
At this point also, you need to give some reasons that compelled you to write a letter, whether in response to a request by the court, or the cause that led you to write that particular letter to the court.
3. Weigh in On Issues Raised
Is there an issue that has been raised and perhaps is contrary to the reality of the case? Then you must address it with your side of the story. It is always important to keep everything truthful.
If the court finds out anything that is not truthful, you may find yourself committing perjury, or can even lose your case.
4. Gather Important Facts
Before you begin to detail your letter in writing, you should brainstorm on the important facts that you want to address in the letter. If you have kept a child custody journal, this will help get your facts across clearly and objectively.
Now state all the facts that you have come across. If there were accusations by the other parent, you should state or give reasons for each accusation without being dramatic. Make sure they are of help to the court and avoid mixing your emotions and the case.
5. Make a Final Draft
After you have detailed everything, proofread and make sure there are no errors, whether grammar or factual errors. Ensure that all the information is captured in your writing and that all the issues that may have been raised are addressed properly.
6. Put It in The Right Hands
You are about to present your letter to the judge. Is it in the right format, signed, and all other formatting done? Now you are ready to present your letter.
The clerk of the court will accept any letters or correspondence on behalf of the judge, just be sure to get a stamped copy or receipt whenever possible.
A well written letter may carry a lot of weight in family court when the judge needs all the facts that will shed some light for the court to make better judgments of your case.
This is a step that will cost much less than an hour or two of your lawyers time. Take every action possible to win your case quickly and effectively.