When to Use Child Testimony

Issues of child custody are often the most hard-fought battles in a family law case. Parents have strong opinions about what is best for their children and will fight long and hard to make sure their child is protected. During these court battles, parents will use all resources at their disposal to help achieve their goals. Direct testimony from friends, family, medical professionals, and therapists can all help a parent to paint a picture for the court of each parent’s ability to provide the most suitable environment for the child. In some cases, the children themselves may have vital information to help the court in determining what is in their best interest. The decision on whether to use child testimony is a difficult one, and there are many factors to consider.

The age of a child is a vital consideration. A very young child is often a poor historian and will have a difficult time accurately recounting a series of events. A teenager, for example, is much more adept at providing precise details than a five-year-old. Accordingly, if you are thinking of calling your child as a witness to provide testimony about a particular event, you need to be confident that the child will actually be able to recall the event accurately and in a way that is helpful for the court.

The trauma that testifying can inflict on the child is also a central consideration. Asking a child to stand up in front of his or her parents and make a firm decision about where to live is difficult, as the child will not want to hurt the feelings of either parent. Also, asking a child to provide details about the stability of the other parent’s home, the other parent’s behavior, or similar information can make the child feel like he or she is betraying the other parent.

There may be some circumstances when asking your child to testify is truly crucial. This could be true if, for example, your child is the only one who has witnessed your former spouse or engage in domestic violence or drinking alcohol to excess and there is no other evidenced of it. The importance of the testimony to achieving the custody or visitation goals needs to be carefully weighed against the potential trauma and anxiety that testifying could cause the child.

If you have questions about child testimony, contact us today at (732) 529-6937. We are can talk about your custody case and what evidence is most important to achieve your goals.

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