Brandon, Fla. – In 2011, almost half of all kids in America live in divorced or separated families. When parents go through a divorce, many of them ask if their child or children can testify or speak to the judge as part of their child custody case. In Florida, a family law judge can weigh the preferences of the child when it comes to timesharing or parenting plans, as the best interests of the child are mostly focused on.
Children who are under 18 might not be allowed to testify as a judge could determine that their age and maturity levels will not be admissible in court. And sometimes they will deny the parents’ requests if the judge and attorneys do not have the qualifications or training in these matters.
“The court could choose to appoint a guardian ad litem, parent coordinator or order a parenting plan evaluation,” said Laurel A. Tesmer, Esq. a Brandon, Fla. divorce and family law attorney at the Osenton Law Firm. “It is extremely important to speak to a knowledgeable attorney to weigh each scenario and analyze the way it could affect your child custody case.”
Having children testify should be the last resort in court, as it will rock their emotions and put them between their mother and father. Courts want to maintain the child’s mental health, security and future emotional well-being. Insisting that they testify could hurt the custody petition more than it could help. If a child’s testimony cannot be avoided, the child will most likely be taken into the judge’s chambers as it is a less threatening environment than being in the middle of a courtroom.
The younger the child, the less weight will be given to his or her testimony. And if it is clear that the parent the child picks to live with is not capable of financially or emotionally taking care of the child, the court can override the child’s decision.
“Parents can become very self absorbed when their marriage starts to crumble,” Tesmer said. “Children need steady, consistent supervision and need their parent to stay calm and focused even when this big stressor is weighing on them. You need a sensitive and competent lawyer to help you start the next chapter of your life.”
Osenton Law Offices counsel parents in child custody cases with tenacity and compassion in Tampa and Brandon, Fla. They are experienced in a broad spectrum of divorce matters, including divorce, child custody, alimony, stepparent adoptions, visitation and time sharing, enforcement and contempt proceedings, and modifications.
To learn more visit, Brandonlawoffice.com.