30 days of human comms #81 A judge’s family court letter to children

It’s been a while since I blogged an example of human comms.

This examople comes not from public relations but from a Judge. A judge in the Family Court.

I’m grateful to Gareth Nicholson for posting this letter to LinkedIn.

It’s a beautiful example of how to write with an audience in mind. The audience here are two children who are the subject of a contested custody case.

In it, the Judge tells the children that he’s told their parents to ‘cut the crap’. But its not such a direct phrase that makes it stand out. It summarises the arguments for and against and sets out a decision.

I love it. If a Judge can speak clearly then what’s your excuse?

Scroll down for the full text.

The full text is here…




30 August 2022

Dear [A] and [B],

My name is John and I am a judge. I met your Mum and Dad at court in London last week. Your mum and dad have asked me to make decisions for you both about where you should live.

Your Mum asked me to decide that you should both come and live with her in Somerset and see your Dad only every second weekend and at holidays. Mum wants you to go to schools in Somerset.

Your Dad asked me to decide that things should stay as they are. That you spend one week with him and the other week with your Mum in London. Dad wants you to go to schools in London.

I think you met a lady called Shelley in July and you told her what you wanted. She told me you both liked the idea of living with your Mum in Somerset. Shelley spoke to me as well last week.

I hope you both understand that I have made the decision and not your Mum or your Dad. Judges sometimes have to make decisions when parents cannot agree.

I have decided you should both continue to live in London with one week in the care of your Dad and then one week in the care of your mum. This means you will both go to school in London from next week. I have decided you should have nice holidays in Somerset and I will speak with your Mum and Dad again to sort that out.

I have made this decision after considering who you both are, what you both need and things like your education, happiness and your welfare. I have decided you need each other – I think you are good brothers to each other. I also think you need to spend time with your Mum and with your Dad. They both need to play an important role in caring for you. I was worried your Dad might not have a full and proper role in your lives if you lived in Somerset. Looking at all these things in the round I felt this was the best decision for your both, although of course I considered what you both wanted.

I have also asked your Mum and Dad to behave a bit better. I know you both find the arguing that happens between them difficult. Although it is a naughty word, [A], you are right to describe it to Shelley as “crap”. I have told your parents to stop “the crap”.

I hope you can both settle down with the new school term with week about with Mum and Dad in your London homes. I hope you will enjoy nice holidays in Somerset. I wish you both good luck.

Judge John

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply