Often clients question whether their minor children will be forced to testify in family law court proceedings. During litigation over custody, there may come a time when one parent would like their child to testify about which parent he or she would prefer to live with. In general, the courts have a strong public policy of protecting children from court proceedings and testimony of children is usually frowned upon. There is a steadfast rule that children are not allowed in court hearings without express permission from the judge. This is designed to protect children from the emotional harm the child might experience from having to testify against a parent.
As always, there may be an exception. In rare occasions, the court may hear testimony from the minor child if the court determines the child to be of sufficient intelligence, understanding and experience to express a preference. In these rare situations, the child is usually older and will speak with the judge alone without any lawyers present.
Requesting a child to testify in court in a divorce case is a complicated, difficult and often emotional issue. It's important to contact an expert family law attorney to discuss this sensitive issue and how this might affect your case and your family.