When custody battles get litigious you want to pull out all the stops to make your case. You might be tempted to have your child testify. This can be especially tempting if your child has expressed that they would want to be with you full time. But before you move forward with allowing your child to testify, there are some things you should consider.
CONSIDERATIONS BEFORE CHILD TESTIMONY
Hise are some things you’ll want to consider:
Is it necessary for your child to testify? And what are your reasons behind why you want your child to provide testimony? Will your child be able to provide the judge with information regarding his or his home life and how the current custody arrangement is impacting them? Is your child mature enough to express his or his desires? If your reasoning behind having your child provide testimony is field by revenge or wanting to embarrass your spouse, then you should refrain. But if your reasoning is fueled by fear of the child’s life being endangered by living with the other parent, then you should let them testify.
What are the effects this will have on the child? Divorce and being shuffled between two homes is already a tough experience for a child to go through. Will testifying make your child feel as if they have to choose sides? How will this make them feel? How will this impact your relationship with them? How would you feel if they were testifying against you? Co-parenting is a large part of this “new world” your child is in, and you should encourage a healthy co-parenting environment. If your child has expressed in interest in testifying, try to get behind the real reasons. Are they just afraid they will lose time with you? Do they just need some reassurance?
What are the child testimony laws in your state? A divorce and family law attorney will be able to help you understand the child testimony laws in your state. In California, a child 14 years or older is allowed to testify during divorce proceedings, unless the testimony is not in the “best interest” of that child. A court will also consider the testimony of a child under the age of 14 if that child is deemed mature enough to be able to provide a competent testimony.
The decision of allowing your child to provide testimony should not be taken lightly. You should with the pros and cons of the situation, and really listen to your child’s thoughts on the matter. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions of yourself and of your child to get to the bottom of what they impact this testimony will have. Keeping your child’s best interest in mind will help steer your decision to the one that is correct for you and your child.
Source: The Huffington Post, Divorce Confidential: Child Testimony in Divorce Proceedings, January 29, 2015
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