If you and your ex are not able to amicably agree or negotiate a cooperative custody arrangement, it is likely that you will have to go through a custody battle in court. Any custody battle can take a huge emotional toll on you and your family. It can be emotionally draining and stressful, and you may even be facing the idea of potentially losing your relationship with your child. Many parents going through this process wonder whether their child will be allowed to testify in court.
In California, there are specific procedures related to the court's consideration of children's wishes and preferences in regards to custody during family court proceedings. It is important to understand that there is no law in California that either prohibits or requires children from participating in custody proceedings. In other words, children can and may be permitted to participate, but there is not requirement that they must do so.
Children Over 14
If your child is over the age of 14, they are able to testify in court as part of your custody battle unless the judge finds that doing so is not in the best interests of the child. They must also state the reasons for the prohibition on the record. Although a child over the age of 14 is likely to be allowed to state a preference regarding custody, the final decision still resides with the judge. Children under the age of 18 cannot decide where or with whom they live. The amount of weight your child's expressed preference will hold is entirely up to the discretion of the judge. Much will depend on the reasons the child gives for their preference as well as their age and maturity.
If the judge finds that it is not in the best interest of the child to appear in court, they must consider alternative means of communicating a child's wishes, which may include a professional or other third party.
Children Under 14
If a child under 14 wishes to express a preference regarding custody, they are not automatically precluded from doing so in California. However, the court must consider on a case-by-case basis whether doing so is in the best interests of the child. If a younger child is called to testify, it is much more likely to be in chambers and outside of the presence of both parents. The judge may also order that the child's wishes be communicated through a third party.
How Palmer Rodak & Associates Can Help You with Your Custody Case
Whether or not your child can testify in court during a custody dispute largely depends on their age and maturity, as well as whether it is found to be in their best interest by the judge. In some cases, alternative means such as third-party communication may be used instead. Generally speaking, having an experienced family law attorney on your side can be a great benefit when dealing with all kinds of custody disputes.
At Palmer Rodak & Associates, our experienced family law attorneys understand the complexities of child custody cases and are here to help guide you through the process. We understand how difficult and emotionally trying this process can be. We are dedicated to helping you get the best possible outcome when it comes to your child custody dispute. We will fight hard for your rights and ensure that the best interests of you and your children are put first.
Contact us online or call us at (760) 573-2223 for more information or to schedule a consultation.