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Will My Child Be Able to Testify in Court?

We receive many questions about the age when a child may testify in court.  During a divorce proceeding- especially contentious ones- where the parenting plan is in dispute, the children wind up squarely in the middle.  Many divorcing spouses believe that the law provides a specific age when children can testify or decide which parent they would like to live with- say 15.

In reality, decisions about a parenting plan are never made solely by a child. In fact, pursuant to Florida Family Law Rule of Procedure 12.407 “ No minor child shall be deposed or brought to a deposition, brought to court to appear as a witness to attend a hearing, or subpoenaed to appear at a hearing without prior order of the court based on good cause shown unless in an emergency situation.”

In short, a party must demonstrate good cause for a judge to permit a child to testify in any proceeding. Since the best interest of the child is always the standard, judges are reluctant to pit children against either parent.  Under those circumstances, there is always the risk that the child will damage his relationship with one or both parents if he or she is called to testify. 

The solution may be for the Court to appoint a guardian ad litem to advocate for the child’s interest and to report to the court.

If you are in a situation where you believe the judge should hear from a child in your care, you should contact a qualified family law attorney. Drafting a motion to permit child testimony or a motion to appoint a guardian ad litem should be undertaken by an attorney with specific legal expertise.

If you have further questions, please call us at 257-1222.

Posted on November 24, 2014