Because the family court system is so crowded, under Colorado child custody laws judges and others often base their decisions partially or entirely on written statements. These sworn statements are called declarations. If you are directed to write a declaration letter, you are sworn to tell the truth, just as you would if you were testifying in person in front of the judge.
A declaration letter for child custody is a statement, on your behalf, presenting your evidence and insights regarding your child custody case. This may be reviewed by the judge, your child’s guardian ad litem, and anyone else who can influence the outcome of your case. It’s very important to get this letter right, as it can play a very significant role in your case.
Essential Declaration Letter Tips
- Write clearly, and use your own words. Judges don’t expect you to be well-versed in legal terms.
- Use bulleted lists for your major points.
- Don’t insult or bash your ex. Do make your concerns known objectively.
- Attach evidence such as pay stubs or bank statements, but redact SSN and account numbers. Do not disclose sensitive information in a letter.
- Affirm that you are making your statement under oath, and under penalty of perjury.
- Make reasonable demands.
- Remember that judges appreciate brevity.
- Ask a professional attorney to review and edit your declaration letter before you post it.
Child Custody Declaration Letter Sample
It’s very important that the letter you submit is well-organized, and that it contains all of the information needed to make a decision. Here is a sample outline you can use as a reference for writing your own letter.
Provide introductory information here, and summarize what you are asking for.
Example: John Smith and I were married in July 2012. We had our first child together in March of 2013, and another in July 2015. I am asking for physical custody and supervised visitation for John Smith.
Summarize the current situation regarding custody and support.
Example: Since our separation three months ago, the children have been living with me exclusively. John Smith has paid agreed-upon child support. He has only seen the children on one occasion. I am living in the family home and paying the mortgage and utilities. John Smith is staying in an unknown location.
Statement of Facts
Here you assert the evidence that you believe will compel the judge to rule in your favor. Avoid any temptation to engage in character assassination, but do state your concerns.
Example: If the children live with me, they will be able to maintain the home they are used to, and attend the same school and activities as they have in the past. Supervised visitation will allow them to have a relationship with John Smith while reducing their risk of being impacted by his anger issues. Evidence of these anger issues includes Mr. Smith being ordered into anger management classes by the court in January of 2017, and the issuance of a restraining order in September of 2018.
State exactly what you want from the court here. Don’t make demands though. Neutrally summarize your preferable terms of custody.
Example: Given the information above, I am asking the court to order that the children live with me full time and that John Smith receive supervised visitation at regular intervals. I would like support to continue to be paid as it has been.
This example provides a general framework for writing your letter. Within an actual declaration, you will want to provide a greater level of details concerning:
- Parenting during marriage/relationships
- Post-separation parenting
- Address any claims/declarations filed to the court by your ex-spouse
If you’ve been asked to write a declaration letter, it’s best to seek assistance from a lawyer specializing in child custody in Colorado. They can provide both legal advice and much-needed perspective as you write your declaration. Professional help can be pivotal in ensuring that your case is resolved in your favor.
Contact the Family Law professionals at Tolison & Williams today to get all of your child custody questions answered.