Custody Preparation for Moms

A support site provided by those that have been through the process.




Freedom of Information Act, Open Records Laws, Privacy Act, FERPA and other Disclosure Laws


Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act is a law that requires the U.S. Government to give out certain information to the public when it receives a written request. FOIA applies only to records of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government, not to those of the Congress or Federal courts, and does not apply to state governments, local governments, or private groups.

Open Records Laws

Individual states have varying laws about open records and meetings.

Privacy Act

The Privacy Act provides individuals with a means of access similar to that of the Freedom of Information Act. The statutes do overlap, but not entirely. See generally Greentree v. United States Customs Serv., 674 F.2d 74, 76-80 (D.C. Cir. 1982). The FOIA is entirely an access statute; it permits "any person" to seek access to any "agency record" that is not subject to any of its nine exemptions or its three exclusions. By comparison, the Privacy Act permits only an "individual" to seek access to only his own "record," and only if that record is maintained by the agency within a "system of records" -- i.e., is retrieved by that individual requester's name or personal identifier -- subject to ten Privacy Act exemptions (see the discussion of Privacy Act exemptions, below). Thus, the primary difference between the FOIA and the access provision of the Privacy Act is in the scope of information requestable under each statute.

An individual's access request for his own record maintained in a system of records should be processed under both the Privacy Act and the FOIA


Tthe Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law which gives parents and guardians rights to the educational records of their children and protects the privacy of those records by requiring proper consent before records are released to others.

FOIA Basics                      

Links to sites containing basic state-by-state statutes about open meetings and open records. Many states have multiple statutes that provide exemptions.  The FOIA does not apply to state governments, local governments, the court systems, or private groups.  These links may provide alternative statutes under which to request records.

State Freedom of Information Act Map

Sample FOIA Request Letters

FERPA Policy Interpretation #2 - Custody, Parents Rights Defined by FERPA


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