Writing a Motion to Modify Custody
A motion is simply a written or oral request for a court order or ruling. We use one to “move” the court to dispense justice in our favor.
If you are a victim of parental alienation, there should be relief available to you:
- in your family law case, which we are exploring in this lesson;
- in the civil justice system, which we will use to sue for damages; and
- in the criminal justice system, which entitles us to an investigation and prosecution.
If you have a family law case, you will use a motion to address the issue. If you do not have a family law case, you can open one with a petition, such as a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, or if not married, a Petition to Establish Parental Responsibilities; although, in this case, I would recommend that you stay out of family law if you can and seek relief in the civil and criminal justice systems.
Many states offer online forms and instructions for family law matters, see Lesson #9.
Or, if you prefer, you can write your own motions and other court documents, like I do.
FOUNDER’S NOTE: I decided to combine the motion and affidavit forms – see Colorado’s forms here – because my motion references the affidavit and my affidavit, which will be presented in the next lesson, will reference numerous exhibits, which I will include in an EXHIBIT BOOK. I am doing all this because my 4 sons are now adults and my only daughter is 17-½ years of age and this will be my last shot at justice in the family courts.
In most family law matters, you do not have to create your own court documents. If your state offers fill-in-the-blank forms, you can simply fill them out, and serve and submit them. And also, normally, unlike mine, you would wait to offer evidence at a hearing for that purpose.
I prefer to draft my own motions because I take every opportunity, by attaching evidence, to get the truth on the record in my cases. Notice, though, that my motion follows Colorado’s form almost exactly, and just adds pertinent information in each paragraph, which will be “explained in more detail in the attached affidavit.” The beauty of the state’s forms is that they show you what information you must include.
If you wish to follow my example, create a Motion template that can be used for all your court documents in that district, see Lesson #2. Then, each time you write a motion, you can simply open it, fill in the caption, see Lesson #3, and save it as whatever title you’ve chosen for your new document.
Then, put your new motion side-by-side with your state’s form, and complete it, print it, and sign it. If your state requires “verified” motions, you will need to sign it under oath (in front of a notary or “under penalty of perjury”), see Lesson #8.
The requirement to obtain a notary stamp on your court documents is being phased out, albeit very slowly. Federal law 28 U.S.C. § 1746 did away with this requirement, requiring only that we sign “under penalty of perjury,” but many states, like Colorado and Minnesota, continue to require pro se litigants to sign their documents in front of a notary, as one way to make the process burdensome and discourage us. In 2011, I just stopped obtaining notary stamps, and a few months later Minnesota’s judges got sick of taking the time in their orders to order me around like a puppet. And now, Minnesota has their own law that mirrors the federal law! Maybe I had something to do with that!
Lesson #11 will show you how to write an affidavit.