Child Custody Battles: When Can Children Testify?
I read a good article that discusses when children can testify in a child custody matter. According to this article When Can Children Testify In A Contested Child Custody Case?
In California, although the law specifically permits children who are at least 14-years-old to express an opinion, there is no requirement that a judge must consider the child’s opinion. For understandable reasons most courts and parents do not want to engage the children in their custody disputes. It places the children in the middle of their parents whom they love both parents. Nor do they want to select one parent over the other. Per the article bitter child custody battles can drain parents' nerves, wallets, and time. It goes on to state that research shows that parental conflict often takes a profound emotional toll on children caught in the middle, leading to increased school drop-out rates, behavior problems and mental health issues.
There are a lot of bad reasons for asking a child testify in court. The conflict between the parent’s day to day living in the presence of the children that causes the emotional distress. By this analysis, asking a child to testify in court is drawing them directly into the conflict, the thing that parents should most want to protect their children from and keep them out of. In some instances the testimony may be relevant to very serious issues like domestic violence. It is important for the court to hear how the domestic violence between the parents impacts upon the child. Getting accurate testimony from a child witness is challenging and the child must be protected before being asked to testify in a court. Children can testify when they are being abused by one of their parents in a separated family household. Another situation is when children can testify is when one parent is using drugs.
Lastly the use of minors counsel is a respected and important decision the court may implement to get your child’s voice into the litigation without traumatizing the child from the testimony. The court can hire an attorney who will represent the best interest of the child.