Can My Minor Children Be Called to Testify in California Divorce Proceedings?
At the Land Legal Group, our divorce attorneys in Los Angeles know that children often have a front-row seat to witness each parent’s behavior in their shared and separate homes. Because this is true, some parents want our family courts to consider the child’s preference when it comes time to determine child custody arrangements.
In California, children ages fourteen and older may generally testify during divorce proceedings unless it is not in the best interests of the child to do so. However, if the court deems it appropriate, a younger child’s testimony may also be considered.
If you are concerned about how the child’s views will be received by the court, or if you know your kids want to live with you and what weight the court will give when determining child custody, contact our Los Angeles County family law attorneys today to learn about your legal rights and options, so you can present your side of the argument with an experienced attorney by your side.
What Does “If Appropriate” Mean for a Minor’s Child Custody Testimony in Los Angeles?
A child under the age of fourteen may testify “if appropriate,” which means he or she has the capacity to reason, based on their age, intelligence, and understanding of the situation based on their experiences with both parents.
The courts often consider testimony from children as young as eight or nine, but smaller children, ages three or four, typically do not meet the standard reasoning requirement.
However, if a child has expressed their desire to live with one parent over the other, yet the court determines that it is not in their best interest to testify, it must provide alternative means of obtaining their input — typically through a third person.
That person must be made available during the proceedings as well, so they can testify and endure cross examination about the statement they took from the child.
If My Children Prefer to Live with Me, Will They Have to Ask the Court to Testify?
There are several ways your children may be made available to testify about their child custody preferences, including:
- The court may inquire on its own
- You may present your child’s wishes to the court
- Professionals, including investigators, counselors, or custody evaluators have a mandatory duty to inform the court of a child’s wishes
If you have questions about child custody and how the court will weigh the wishes of your children, contact our skilled divorce attorneys in Los Angeles today at (310) 552-3500 to learn how we can help you understand your rights and outline your options, so you can make informed decisions about your future.