It’s very important for both parents to be careful about doing anything that makes the child feel like he or she is taking sides
For parents going through a divorce, the prospect of having their children testify in court is often frightening or stressful. Understandably, they worry about their kids — especially very young children — experiencing trauma or fear in an intimidating courtroom setting.
Although children aren’t required to testify in custody or divorce proceedings, it’s sometimes helpful for the case if they do. If you’re worried about how your child will handle testifying in court, it’s important to discuss your concerns with your North Carolina divorce lawyer. Your attorney can help you explore your options and make arrangements for the experience to be less stressful for you and your child.
Having a Child Testify Away from the Courtroom
Raleigh North Carolina divorce lawyer Lori Vitale explains: “In some states, the law sets a minimum age for children to have the permission to testify in custody or divorce cases. In North Carolina, however, there is not a specific age. Instead, the court determines if the child is competent to tell the truth and if the child understands the difference between right and wrong. The court will also consider if the child is mature enough to articulate his or her feelings.”
If a child testifies, the court must still apply the same rules of evidence to the child’s testimony as he or she would to any other piece of evidence. If all or part of the testimony doesn’t satisfy the rules of evidence, the testimony won’t be admissible in the case.
If the court decides the child is competent to testify, sometimes the parents can agree to have the child testify outside the actual courtroom, such as in the judge’s chambers. This can make things less scary for the child.
Just because the child testifies, however, does not mean the court will automatically decide in favor of the child’s testimony. For example, if the child expresses a preference for living with one parent versus the other, the court must still consider other factors that indicate which parent would be a more appropriate caregiver.
Vitale Family Law: North Carolina Divorce Lawyers
Each child is different. Sometimes, a very young child is emotionally mature enough to handle courtroom testimony. In other situations, an older child isn’t equipped emotionally to deal with testifying in court.
It’s very important for both parents to be careful about doing anything that makes the child feel like he or she is taking sides, as this can be psychologically harmful for the child. Speak with your North Carolina divorce lawyer about the best options in your divorce or child custody case.
Raleigh Family Lawyers
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