If not used correctly, Certified Mail is useless in court as documentation. The following tips will help you use Certified Mail in a way that will increase its usefulness in court.
Go to the Post Office and grab a handful of the Certified Mail tags AND the green Return Receipt Requested tags to go with it so you have them at home- this will save you from having to make multiple trips to the Post Office.
The most important point to observe when sending certified mail is to reference the Certified Mail Return Receipt number in the letter that you send. In the letter's header put: "Via Certified Mail XXX XXX XXX", with the "XXX XXX XXX" being the certified mail tag's serial number. Doing this ensures that the receiver of the Certified Mail cannot claim that even though you sent them Certified Mail, it didn't contain what you say was in the envelope.
Make a photocopy of the letter (showing the Return Receipt serial number) and a photocopy of the certified envelope with the tags in place and the stamp on it. This verifies there was a letter regarding this issue made out and ready to be mailed.
Whenever possible, buy the postage from a clerk at the Post Office. This way it will show that you paid for the service on the regular receipt as well as on the green and white receipt (you should get both). Every little bit of documentation helps.
Send everything "Return Receipt Requested" or you'll have no proof it went out at all. If the recipient does sign for the letter, you'll get the green card back with the signature on it. Put it with the receipt you get from the Post Office for the certified letter, then put those together with a copy of the letter and the photocopy of the envelope. Staple all of this together neatly.
Every time you send a letter regarding your case make a copy for your records and for your attorney's records. Keep all your copies together (in chronological order) in a binder.
If you need proof of what was sent, try this: Videotape yourself walking into the Post Office, getting the envelope, showing the numbers, etc. Then open the letter to prove its contents. Place it in the envelope, hand it and the fees to the postmaster. Now that's proof that you can show to a judge.
Always type the letter instead of handwriting it. The court will be able to read it better, and there will be less chance of a misunderstanding. Handwritten letters are not as professional (or intimidating) and tend to convey personal and emotional interest, something you do NOT want to do. Write your letter(s) with the idea in mind that the judge and the opposing counsel will be reading them someday (so be polite, don't use profanity, etc.).
In instances where the custodial parent has moved, and not notified the non-custodial parent of the new address, the non-custodial parent does have a method to discover the new address. According to Postal Regulations, the sender need only place the words 'Forwarding and Address Correction Requested' beneath their return address on first class mail. The letter will be delivered to the addressee, but the sender will also receive notification from the Post Office of the new address. The sender will usually have to pay some nominal fee for this service (50 to 75 cents or so).
You don't have to note on the letters that a copy (cc) was sent to anyone. That is something you CAN do, however, we found that when we do NOT put this, more tends to happen as a result in our favor. The reason for this is that our "adversary" didn't realize that we had copies for every single time we sent a letter for everything they did, and that we could document ALL of the "attempts at communication".
The less direct information you give your "adversary", the better. As long as they get the idea that you're just sending them these letters, they won't think you mean business. When the time comes and you hand it ALL to the judge, he will be impressed (with you) and disgusted (with them) all at the same time, and THAT is the reaction you want.
Don't overuse Certified Mail, and don't expect that using it will necessarily satisfy certain legal or parental responsibilities that you have. For a more in-depth discussion of these two issues, please read Using Certified Mail In Court.
Is Your Certified Mail Being Refused? Try one of these techniques:
When you send the Certified Mail, send a copy by regular U.S. Mail at the same time. If the regular mail is not returned, then it can be assumed that it was received. When you receive the certified mail back, do not open it. Keep a record of when it was sent, when it came back and what was in it for future reference. (One easy way to do this is to make a copy of the letter and attach it to the Certified Mail envelope when it comes back.)
In court, present the returned Certified Mail into evidence as well as the copies of the letter(s) sent by regular mail. State that although the Certified Mail was returned, the regular mail wasn't. Let the Judge draw his or her own conclusions about what this means.
Send her a UPS or FEDEX package with the letter inside.
Send it to her at her work address.
Send a package (certified) to the child with the letter enclosed (the child will give it to her).
Send the certified letter using her attorney's return address (street address, city and zip code). She may think it's from the attorney and sign for it.