From court hearings to internal family disputes, child custody cases are trying battles in many ways. And while each family’s situation is different, parents in child custody cases have one job – to convince a judge that being in their child’s life is in the best interest of their son or daughter. Aside from having a stable job, a home and a healthy relationship with the child, one of the most effective ways to prove fitness as a parent is with a character reference for child custody.
What is a Character Reference for Child Custody?
Just like a reference letter for a job, a character reference for child custody speaks on behalf of a parent – explaining why he or she should have custody of his/her child. These letters give a judge a more personal, in-depth look at how involved the parent has been, as well as how the parent has positively impacted the child. Essentially, a character reference for child custody argues for the parent to be a part of the child’s life.
Who Should Write a Character Reference for Child Custody?
Typically, the parent seeking custody should ask close friends and family to write character references. This is because they have the most credibility, being the ones to witness first-hand the relationship between the parent and child, as well as how the parent has handled the challenges of co-parenting thus far.
Other people that may have enough insight on the parent-child relationship are neighbors and co-workers who have known the family for some time. However, just because a parent asks someone to write a character reference for child custody does not necessarily mean that the person should agree. One should only write a letter if he/she genuinely believes that the parent requesting is a positive addition to the child’s life.
The parent seeking custody may want to ask a few individuals to write a reference letter. Later, the parent’s attorney may decide which one to submit or may choose to submit several.
Where to Begin When Writing a Character Reference for Child Custody
Doing some brainstorming before writing the letter usually makes the process much easier. Begin by considering examples of behavior between the parent and child that you have witnessed. You do not have to describe each example in the letter, but each instance may help you to distill the relationship between parent and child. For example, looking at your list you might conclude that the relationship is warm, loving, and stable.
This will also help you develop a sense of authenticity as you are writing the letter. A character reference for child custody does not need to be written in a formal, business tone. Remember to keep the tone of the letter friendly and conversational. Don’t feel the need to use legal terms. It should be written in your own voice, which will depict a level of honesty and care you have for the parent you are writing about.
Writing a Character Reference for Child Custody – The Proper Format and Message
It also isn’t necessary to write an overly long letter. One page typically will suffice. Begin the first paragraph by:
- Introducing yourself
- Mentioning your relationship to the parent
In the next one to two paragraphs, describe two or three of the items from your brainstorming list. You don’t necessarily have to include events where the parent proved their devotion under extraordinary circumstances. Judges are frequently more interested in the child’s day-to-day welfare. You might also include something about:
- Getting the child to school on time
- Providing nutritious meals
- Having a loving and affectionate relationship
As a final paragraph, sum up why you think the parent is the best candidate for receiving custody. Provide your contact information if you have not included it elsewhere.
What to Leave Out of a Character Reference for Child Custody
Keep in mind that the character reference for child custody is intended to recommend why a particular parent is the right individual to care for a child. Accordingly, the character reference letter is not the place to bash the other parent or point out where the other parent may have failed in their responsibility. Maintain a focus on the good parenting skills shown by the other parent.
To learn more about child custody, take a look at How to Prove a Parent Unfit for Child Custody.