How to Write a Letter for Child Custody

By Natalie Smith, Ph.D. - Updated June 05, 2017
Father and daughter spending time together

Few events in life are more stressful than a divorce, especially if you have children. Many courts require parents who are vying for child custody to submit a letter to the judge detailing why they are the best choice to retain physical custody of the children. These letters must be well-organized, contain specific details and be factually and grammatically correct or you will lose credibility with the court.

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Seek Legal Advice

Seek legal advice before you begin your child custody case. Divorces involving custody can be complicated, and your lawyer will be instrumental in guiding you through the process. Your lawyer will know what content the court is expecting to see. Follow that advice as closely as possible when you write the letter.

The Introduction

Begin the letter following basic business letter format for the addresses and opening. Start by typing your address flush left, date, judge's name and honorific title (if known), the name of the court and the court's mailing address. Do this even if you have to turn in the letter in person, as it will appear more professional if it is in the correct format.

The Body Paragraphs

Give supporting evidence in subsequent paragraphs. Judges typically look for reasons why your home is a beneficial one for the children and why you can provide a better home for the children than your former spouse. Avoid mentioning criteria that courts in your state consider irrelevant. For example, the parent's gender and ability to provide for their children are not considered relevant details in Texas.

Use Supporting Documents

Provide supporting documents, if applicable. For example, you can provide a list of dates that your former spouse missed his or her visitation times. Refer to these documents in the letter so that the judge knows when to look at it.

The Closing

Close by thanking the judge for his or her time. Reiterate your contact information and your attorney's contact information. Close off the letter with a "Sincerely" and type your full name. Then, print the letter and sign your name in blue or black ink above or directly below your typed name.

Proofread and Send

Review your letter draft with your attorney. Revise it if necessary, then provide your attorney with a copy of the letter. Your attorney will turn it into the the court for you. Retain an additional copy for your records.

About the Author

Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.

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