How to Write a Letter to the Court for Child Custody

How to Write a Letter to the Court for Child Custody

Character letters, when concerning child custody hearings, is a letter that demonstrates a parent’s capability to fulfill their child(ren)’s needs. It can serve as a sort of proof that judges and custody assessors use when evaluating what type of arrangement is in the best interest of the child(ren). Character letters are commonly required in contested cases, whereas one parent is looking for an arrangement with which the other parent is in disagreement with. There is obviously no conventional format, every productive character letter has a few typical themes.

Interests of the Child(ren) Standard

In just about every child custody hearing, judges consider what is in the best interests of the child(ren). The specific factors judges, and custody assessors consider could vary by state, but typically courts look at the relationship the parents’ have with the child, their skills as a parent, and knowledge of what needs the child(ren) have. The court might also take into account any criminal history of the parents and their capability to sustain a stable lifestyle.

In cases in which the child at issue is older, the court may also consider the preference of the child. For instance, if the child is 13 years old and prefers to live with the mother, a court is more likely to into account when coming to a decision, more so than when the child is only age 5 or 6.

Each character letter needs to include why it’s in the best interests of the child(ren) to live with that parent. It may be created by a family member, close friend, neighbor, professional associate, educator, or any other party that has knowledge of the child/ parent relationship.

Style of the Letter

Different from a lot of legal documents, character letters are allowed to use informal terminology. Nevertheless, it needs to still be clear, brief, and thoughtful. The individual that is writing the letter needs to explain in their own words why they deem the parent is the right guardian for the child(ren). The opening paragraph needs to detail the author’s relationship with the parent they are backing, in addition to the parent/ child relationship. It is also wise for the author to details their credentials, particularly when they have specific knowledge in child up-bringing and development.

Whereas character letters need to highlight and accentuate the parent’s best qualities and reduce their less positive traits, they need to always be honest so that the court can determine an informed decision. The body of the letter may comprise of stories or narratives that help detail the parent/ child relationship. These instances can help detail the ways in which the parent has exercised a particularly effectual parenting style or demonstrated a constructive outlook towards the child.

These letters may give a judge and custody assessor proof of a parent’s ethical character and capability to care and provide for their child’s day to day requirements. In cases of divorce in which child custody is a contested matter, the letters can help the court in establishing a knowledgeable decision about what kind of custody to grant.

Source:

  1. Kurose, S. (2019, April 19). What is in a “Character Letter” for a child CUSTODY court hearing? Retrieved July 06, 2021, from https://info.legalzoom.com/article/what-character-letter-child-custody-court-hearing

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