How to Write a Petition Letter
A petition letter is used to make a request to an authority, such as a court or a university. Sometimes the terms petition and petition letter are used interchangeably because they contain similar information. Like other types of petitions, a petition letter includes the background and relevant facts behind the issue, and clearly communicates the action being requested. In contrast to petitions for a cause, petition letters generally do not need to gather signatures to show support. These types of petition letters should be sent directly to the person or institution they are written to – these are not meant to be posted on petition websites like Change.org.
Here are some common examples of when to write a petition letter:
Petition letter in law
In US legal context, a petitioner is the person who files the petition or application for a court ruling. As an example, this could refer to the person filing for divorce – the other spouse would be the respondent. In immigration cases, the petitioner is the person who submits the request on behalf of a foreign national who wishes to immigrate to the US. In certain cases, a petition may be a form that a petitioner fills out and files with the court. Some examples of petition forms for US federal courts can be found here. Most states also have court forms that you can fill in and file with the court, to make motions in existing court cases, or to file other documentation with the judge. If a form is not appropriate for your purpose, a petition letter may required. Petition letters are written by the petitioner to the court. They are commonly used in cases where non-monetary relief is requested, such as child custody cases. Please consult a licensed attorney for legal advice.
Elements of a petition letter:
Address the letter to the relevant court or official. Research the appropriate venue for the letter. This could be the judge a case has already been assigned to, or a court that would have jurisdiction over the claim. Be sure to use the correct title for the judge you’re addressing (Honorable Judge, Chief Justice, etc.).
State background and relevant facts. Introduce yourself and explain the problem you’re looking to solve. Use a professional tone and write in the format of a business letter. Include anything that the court needs to make a decision. You may also need to include supporting documentation.
Clearly state your request. Include the action you want the court to take.
Template for a petition letter to a court (child custody)
[City, State Zip Code]
[Name of judge]
[Name of court]
[City, State Zip Code]
RE: [Name, Case #]
To [Title and Name of Judge]:
[Introduction: Include when you and your ex-spouse married and dates when your child/ren were born. Explain what you are requesting, e.g. sole legal and physical custody, child support payments and any additional payments, like for child’s school tuition.]
[Explain background of marriage, current living arrangements, circumstances since separation]
[Include information on each parent’s employment and schedule, caregiving responsibilities, how expenses get paid, any special needs or major disputed issues]
[Explain what your proposed parenting schedule is, and why it is best for your child/ren]
[Explain any attachments included with your letter, such as Exhibits. Make sure to explain all of your requests including child support payments]
[Conclusion: A clear and concise restatement of the things you are requesting the court to order]
I declare, under penalty of perjury of the laws of the State of [State], that the above is true to the best of my knowledge.
Petition letter to a school
A petition letter to a school is a formal request for a specific action. The petitioner in this case is usually a student. Petition letters are often used to make a formal request for a college or university to reconsider dismissal from an academic program.
The petition letter should include:
Address the letter to the appropriate school or official. This could be the university, college, principal, dean, provost, president, teacher, or professor.
State background and necessary information. Use a professional tone and a business letter format. Plead your case using clear and concise language. Include any explanations for absences. It is recommended to avoid placing blame. Make sure your appeal is within the appropriate timeframe. Waiting too long to file your request could result in losing out on your case being reconsidered.
Clearly state your request for action. What do you want the school to do in this situation?
Sample template for a petition letter to a university
[City, State Zip Code]
[Title and Name of official or “To Whom It May Concern”]:
My name is [Student name] and I am writing to appeal my academic dismissal from [University Name]. This semester, I was supposed to complete the final examinations in [Class name and number] on [Scheduled date] and [Class name and number] on [Scheduled date]. However, I was hospitalized from a severe illness and could not attend the examinations. I was hospitalised for a month at the [Hospital name], [City, State]. I informed the university about this through a written document.
As per college bylaws, I am entitled to take these examinations whenever I have been certified Healthy by a physician. I have filed the application for taking these exams and a certificate of medical health. When I contacted the department, however, I was informed that I could not take the exams as I had been dismissed from the program. I could not understand it, as I had a valid medical excuse.
Please review my case and contact me with any questions. I have followed the rules and regulations regarding exam eligibility and believe I deserve to be allowed to complete these two examinations.
Please find attached copies of my doctor’s note, treatment record, medical prescriptions, University Examination Schedule, and Medical Certificate for your reference.
[Student Major and Year of Expected Graduation]
[Student Email Address]