When there is a child custody case in North Carolina, parents often get distracted with their own goals, needs and wants to realize that the child might want to have his or her voice heard. Given the litany of challenges that are part of any family law case, it is easy to forget the fundamental fact that the child will be impacted significantly by any custody and parenting time (visitation) determination. Keeping the child involved could be beneficial to everyone and help the court make an informed decision to suit the child’s best interests.
The two specific situations in which a child can testify
The child can testify during the case, but there are two circumstances in which it will be allowed. First, if there is a relevant incident that needs the child’s input for the court to analyze, the child can testify. It is up to the judge to decide if the child can give accurate testimony and knows how essential it is to be truthful. Children can also tell the judge about their preferences. In addition to understanding the importance of being truthful, the age and maturity of the child will be thoroughly considered.
If the child is deemed to be mature enough to make a reasonable statement as to where he or she wants to live and what the parenting time template should be, then it can be factored in. This is especially relevant for teenager. Still, the judge is not obligated to do as the teenager is asking in terms of custody and parenting time.
It is a misplaced belief that the child’s age will dictate whether he or she can testify. Parents can choose to have a child testify regardless of the child’s age. If, however, a parent has a child who is clearly not of sufficient maturity to testify or there are other concerns, it can be factored in when assessing the parent’s judgment. If the child testifies, it might be in the judge’s chambers so the parents are not present and will not influence the child’s testimony.
Knowing the basics of a child’s potential testimony is vital in a family law case
The child’s well-being is paramount in any case in which child custody issues come to the forefront. Part of addressing that may require the child’s testimony. For some, there is a reasonable chance for negotiating a settlement with a parenting coordinator to avoid the need for the child to be intimately involved in the case. In others, the case is more complicated. From the start, it is useful to have professional advice to try and reach a positive outcome for everyone involved.