Children’s Testimony in Custody Cases

It is a hard truth that when many parents decide to divorce, they are unable to work through an agreeable child custody arrangement. Instead, many of these cases become a heated, mud-slinging, all-out battle. There are many different reasons for this scenario. In the majority of cases, it is because both parents truly love their child and do not want the child to only be with them on a part-time basis. In other cases, it becomes more about control or getting even. In those types of custody cases, either one or both parents lose sight of what truly is in the best interest of their child. There are also custody cases where it may be an unhealthy or dangerous situation for one parent to have sole or shared custody, such as when there is a history of addiction or abuse.

Whatever the reason for the need to battle it out in court, there is often the question of whether or not the affected child should testify in the proceedings. Although most courts generally prefer children not be part of the proceedings, there are times when it may be necessary to include the child’s testimony. For instance, if one parent has been abusive and the child has been either a witness and/or victim, it may be necessary for the child to testify to corroborate the abuse. Another example would be if the child is older, such as a teenager, and has a preference over the parent with whom they would prefer to live.

When trying to decide if you should allow your child to testify, child advocates suggest asking these questions when making that determination:

  • Is the child’s testimony really necessary? Understand what, if anything, your child’s testimony will do to help the situation. Will it make a difference in demonstrating to the court why the custody arrangement you are proposing is better than the one the other parent is proposing?
  • How will the testimony affect your child? Will your child feel as if he or she is being forced to choose sides, leaving them feeling guilty and feeling as if they betrayed the other parent? What impact will this testimony have on your child’s relationship with the other parent?

As difficult as it may be, the goal for all parents who are divorcing is to foster and encourage a healthy relationship between their child and the other parent, regardless of how the two ex-spouses may feel about each other. This goal can be extremely difficult to stay focused on when going through a child custody battle. This is why it is important to have an experienced Orland Park divorce attorney representing you throughout this process. Contact the Kezy and Associates today at 708-518-8200 for a free consultation.