Don’t allow your children to write to the judge.

Posted August 18th, 2016.

Categories: Custody Tips, Family Law.

dont write the judge mark guralnick

Sometimes parents think they can improve their chances in a child custody case by having their children write letters to the judge. Not a good idea. First, whenever a judge receives correspondence from one of the parties, he’s required to share the document with all of the parties in the case. Many judges will simply reject any letters from the children from the outset, as being an improper form of evidence or as being an improperly filed document. Some judicial chambers will return the letters to the sender without reading them or sharing them with the judge.

In addition, when a child writes a letter to the judge, it may come across as having been coached or ghost-written by one of the parents. Depending on the age of the child, the letter may appear to be disingenuous or contrived. It often does more damage than good to the parent who hopes to have the letter considered by the court.

Encouraging children to write such letters, or assisting in doing so, is also frowned upon, because it means that the parents are improperly involving the children in the custody fight. Most judges agree the children should not be placed in the middle of a custody dispute. Allowing children to “take sides” by penning a letter to the court is probably not good for the children, and isn’t going to improve their relationship with either parent.

If a judge wants to elicit a child’s opinion or to delve more deeply into a child’s observations and perceptions, the judge will schedule an interview with the child. A face-to-face interview gives the court the opportunity to observe the child directly, pick up on visual cues, make credibility determinations and ask questions without the oversight or monitoring of either of the parents.

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