Children don't normally testify during custody hearings; testifying in court can frighten children and affect them psychologically. However, children can sometimes contribute to the case by providing factual testimony or stating their custodial preferences. When they do, they don't have to testify in open court, but rather via various other ways, including these three:
Testifying In the Judge's Chamber
Even if the child has to speak directly to the judge, it's not must that they do it in court. They can talk in the judge's office (chamber) away from the prying eyes of the public, parents, reporters, and other people who may be in the court's public gallery. If the judge has to interview the child in the chamber, then it's usually the judge, child, and a court reporter. The court reporter doesn't contribute or interfere in the testimony; their job is to record the proceedings for future reference. In Texas, it's left to the judge's discretion whether to allow the presence of a person representing the child's interests (such as a court-appointed guardian).
Talking To Their Counsel
In some cases, an attorney is recruited specifically to look out for the interests of the minor. The minor's counsel will talk to the child, interview them, and report to the court their findings. In this case, the lawyer isn't working for the parents, but instead for their client – the child. In fact, working on behalf of the child, the attorney has the power to make requests on behalf of the child; the requests be treated as if they are coming from the child themselves.
Talking To the Child Custody Evaluator
A child custody evaluator is a child expert whose main job is to evaluate the needs of a child and help the court determine the child's custody. The child custody evaluator does this after examining data from several sources. In practice, this usually means evaluating the child's disposition, observing the child's interactions with other people, and interviewing people connected to the child. For example, the evaluator may talk to the parents, neighbors, child's teacher or even the child. This means the evaluator can easily get the child's testimony by interviewing them and taking them to court.
Therefore, if you think your kid has something to contribute to the proceedings, tell your family lawyer about it. The lawyer will evaluate the issue and see to it that if the child does testify, they will do so in a neutral venue and manner to minimize the testimony's effect on the child's welfare.Share
10 February 2017
When I started my first small business, I had no idea how much I really didn’t know. I was fully prepared to deal with customers, sell product and even handle complaints and returns. What I wasn’t aware of was that there is so much more to it. I was lacking the legal expertise to protect the company and myself. I wanted others to benefit from my experience, mistakes and lessons learned, so I started this blog. From employment law to the legal business contracts you’ll have to sign when you form partnerships, business law is complex. I hope that the information here will help you to be better prepared when you start your business so that you’ll know when you need to call an attorney and when you can handle things yourself.