During custody hearings, character letters written on behalf of a parent can be instrumental. In a character letter, you write to the judge on behalf of one of the parents trying to obtain custody. Character letters also may be referred to as personal reference or personal recommendation letters. These letters are similar to job recommendation letters but the focus should be on parenting skills. The letter should be straightforward and positive. It also needs to appear professional and should not have any grammatical or spelling errors.
Speak to the lawyer involved in the case. Ask him about any specific details to include in the character letter. Some options to include might be positive examples of interaction between the child and parent, information on the day-to-day welfare of the child and reasons why the parent is the best candidate to have custody of the child.
Format your letter as a business letter. Your address and date should appear in the top left corner. Write the judge’s name and the court’s address after a blank line. Address the letter to the judge by stating Dear Honorable __.
Open the letter by introducing yourself and how you know the parent and child. Include the number of years you have known the potential custodial parent, any professional or personal connections you have with the parent and in what settings you have observed the parent/child relationship.
Add details in the body. The next one to two paragraphs will be the body of your letter. This is where you provide specific details related to the parenting skills of the parent and the child you are writing on behalf of. Be careful not to remain positive in the character letter. Don't include negative information about the other parent; the focus should be strictly a letter outlining the positive attributes of the parent you are writing the letter about.
Include information on the relationship between parent and child, the ability of the parent to provide basic necessities such as food and shelter, and the mental and physical health of the parent. Include any other relevant details like exemplary behavior of the parent in the child's academic path, ways that the parent provides for the child or simply the loving parent/child relationship that you have observed. Try to not be redundant or start to ramble as a good character letter should provide a strong recommendation in a page or less.
Close your letter with a clear recommendation. Include your contact information if the judge has any further questions. Proofread your letter before you print it.
Sign your letter and bring it to the lawyer. Most judges will not read unsolicited letters so the lawyer will have to deliver the letter to the judge. The lawyer also may look over the letter and ask you to add or change something.