Will My Child Be Called to Testify at My Divorce Trial?
A divorce can be an emotional and stressful ordeal. Spouses might disagree on matters of property division, child custody, and visitation rights. In all of the chaos, it can be forgotten that the divorcing parties are not necessarily the only ones affected by what’s going on. So too are the couple’s children, especially if they are very young.
Children might be confused by what is going on around them. They might feel they’re at fault for their parents’ relationship going south. However, they often have been witness to the circumstances of the household as the marriage deteriorated. They thus could have valuable information with regard not only to their own treatment, but also to the spouses’ treatment of each other.
Additionally, if there are disputes between the parents that result in conflicting information, the child can provide clarification on the matter. Because of this knowledge, divorcing parties often find themselves wondering if their child will be called upon to testify in court during the divorce trial.
The Preference Against Children Testifying
Just as parents are often reluctant to have a child take the stand during trial, so too are courts. There is a feeling that the emotional distress might be more than a young person could handle or that the negative effects of testifying might outweigh the positive effects. Thus, children are not typically asked to testify at their parents’ divorce trial. If they are considered for testimony, their age could be a factor in determining if they should take the stand.
Ways Around the Issue
There’s a possibility that the court could find a way around a child testifying that would essentially provide the same benefit. One such possibility would be enlisting the aid of a custody evaluator. This person would take the time to interview the child in order to ascertain important details about the nature of the parents’ marriage.
Another possibility would be for the judge to interview the child outside of the courtroom. Hopefully this would allow the child to feel more at ease, enabling them to provide answers without the fear of repercussions from their parents or just the general nervousness that a courtroom setting might cause them.
If It Does Happen
In more extreme cases, when children are called upon to testify about the circumstances of their parents’ relationship, judges will typically take special care to prevent them from being badgered by an attorney. Children are vulnerable to emotional discomfort, and there’s always the chance that they could provide misinformation, intentionally or not, if they are nervous or confused about what’s going on around them.
It’s important to realize that children shouldn’t be used as a weapon in a divorce trial. Most people seem to understand the psychological effects that being made to testify can have on a young person, and it’s a situation best avoided if at all possible.
Want Further Details?
If you have questions of concerns about this topic or about Michigan divorce law in general, please contact Gucciardo Law Firm at (248) 723-5190 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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