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Who to Ask When in Need of a Character Reference Letter for Child Custody

The best people to ask to write a character reference letter for child custody fit into three categories. First, the person should know you, but maintain some level of impartiality. Second, the person should know your children and how you act around them. Third, the person must be willing to put the effort and time into the letter to create a quality result. If you can find someone in these categories, that person will be the best person to write your character reference letter for child custody.

1. The person knows you and is impartial.

You need to find someone who knows you and has spent enough time with you to understand your positive qualities. You want someone who can be honest and specific in their writing about you. An effective character letter will give specific examples of your character and not give vague platitudes. The statement, “I know that bob is a kind man because I’ve seen him work at the soup kitchen on Fridays,” is better than the statement, “Bob is kind.”

An effective character reference is also impartial. A letter from your mom telling the court how you are the best father in the world, is not as persuasive as a letter from a co-worker or neighbor that starts, “I don’t really like Bob, but I know he loves his children.” Therefore, it is better to find someone who is not related to you to write the letter.

2. The person knows your children and how you act around them.

The most important factor that the court will look at in a letter is how you treat your children. The court wants to know all it can about how you treat your children, and it is important to find a person who can give many specific and positive details about your parenting. You need someone who has spent time with you and your kids, who has seen you both interact, and who can provide positive feedback. Good examples of these people are the parents of children who have spent time in your home or perhaps someone you have vacationed with.

3. The person must be willing to put the effort and time into the letter to create a quality result.

Finally, you need to pick someone who can and has the time to write. You may pick someone who thinks the world of you, but if they cannot write in a clear and convincing manner, then they cannot help you. I often ask my clients to get as many letters as possible because some letters we get are so poor we cannot use them.

When picking a person to write the letter, look for someone who has some experience with writing. Managers or teachers ofter write many letters of recommendation and know how to do it. You want someone who is going to put effort into the letter, not someone who will fire off a quick letter in 30 minutes.

When you do ask someone for the letter, explain to them the importance of the letter and make sure you give them enough time to write the letter. As soon as you know you need it, start asking people because you want to the give letter writer as much time as possible to think and work on your letter.

Finding someone who fits in all these categories is not easy. I often recommend that clients start by thinking about their friends and neighbors as references. If they don’t work, then move out to co-workers, teachers, and managers. However, do not be afraid to ask. Many people have had trouble in their family and are often more than willing to help someone out who needs a hand.


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