How to write a letter for child custody

Updated February 17, 2017

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-organised, contain specific details, and be factually and grammatically correct or you will lose credibility with the court.

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.

Consult with your lawyer about the contents of the letter. She will know what content the court is expecting to see. Follow her advice as closely as possible when you write the letter.

Begin the letter following basic business letter format for the addresses and opening. Type your address flush left. Skip a space, then type the date. Skip another space, and type the 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, because it will appear more professional if it is in the correct format.

Address the letter to the judge's name and honorific title; for example, "To the Honorable June A. McCain:".

State the purpose of the letter at the start of the opening paragraph, giving the appropriate case or docket number.

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.

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

Close by thanking the judge for her time. Reiterate your contact information and your attorney's contact information.

Type "Sincerely," skip three lines, and type your full name. Print the letter and sign your name in blue or black ink above your typed name.

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


Never send a letter to the court without your attorney's advice.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

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.