Divorce Guide: Will Your Kids Have to Testify?
Facing divorce in Arizona can get nasty. You and your former spouse are likely to fight over who gets what, and neither of you is likely to want to cede anything. You may dig in because you feel like you deserve what you’re fighting for, or you may just want to stick it to the other person and make life as difficult as possible because you’re angry.
In an ideal world, you and your spouse would be able to talk amiably to decide who gets what and to end your marriage peacefully. But if you were able to work things out so easily, you probably wouldn’t be in a position to need to get a divorce. That means that you may have to go to court, and you may have to present evidence and accusations against each other. If you have children, they may have to get involved, too.
Getting Evidence from Children
Children do not necessarily have to testify in court. However, they may need to provide information that is relevant to your divorce case, specifically who gets child custody. There are a few ways that they can provide information without having to testify in open court.
A judge can appoint a lawyer to interview your child and then relay the information to the judge and the lawyers representing you and your spouse. The lawyer may ask your child about things like substance abuse or neglect, or he may ask the child about his or her preferences and opinions. If the child is old enough, these opinions may be taken into consideration when appointing custody.
The court can also appoint an Arizona’s child custody evaluator or mediator to meet with your child. That person would create a report and submit it to the court. The court can be accessed, but it cannot be kept since it is stored with the court.
These options are usually explored when a child is young or when the judge feels that it’s not in their best interests to testify in court.
Testifying in Court
If your children do have to testify, they may not have to do so in open court. The judge may opt to hear their testimony in chambers. If the attorneys have questions for the child, they can pass along the questions to the judge, who can ask them.
Typically, children are not asked to testify in open court unless it is truly necessary. If they do testify, they can provide their opinion on which parent they want to live with, they can talk about which parent does more or participates in childcare more actively, or they can provide insight into parenting behaviors, some of which may be detrimental.
Children do not always have to testify in a divorce proceeding. They can testify, though most experts will tell you to avoid putting them through the experience if you can. The prospect of testifying before imposing strangers can be scary even for older children; it can be traumatizing for younger children. Being asked to share information about a parent that could lead to consequences for one of them can create a lot of turmoil and guilt in a child, as can having to say which parent they would rather live with. You should try to find ways to avoid getting your child involved in your divorce proceedings in Mesa, such as working through a mediator or negotiating a settlement through your attorneys.
The divorce attorneys at My AZ Lawyers will help you fight for the divorce settlement you want. Our goal is to help you get a settlement as quickly as possible and with as little turmoil as possible. That includes coming up with the child custody arrangement and support order you desire. If your case does become contentious, we’ll work to gather the evidence and testimony so that your child doesn’t have to be the source for it. We know that divorce is hard enough on families, and we’ll do what we can to make it a little easier. Contact us today to talk with a family law lawyer about your case. We represent clients in Mesa, Glendale, Tucson, Phoenix, and the surrounding areas. We’re ready to help you find the resolution you want for your divorce.
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202
Office: (480) 448-9800
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308
Office: (602) 509-0955
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701
Office: (520) 441-1450
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392
Office: (623) 399-4222