Dec. 19, 2022

Custody Trial: When Can a Child Testify?

close up little boy suffering from parents conflict sitting at couchDivorce proceedings can be messy, especially when children are involved. In a custody trial, some parents might want to include a child’s testimony to let the court know which parent they prefer to live with. However, the court highly protects children, and many stipulations are involved regarding when and how a child can testify in a custody trial.

Can a Child Testify in a Custody Hearing in North Carolina?

One of the most important factors a North Carolina judge will consider when allowing a child to testify in a custody trial is whether or not doing so is in the child’s best interest.

Another factor considered is whether or not the child understands the difference between the truth and a lie.

The judge will often sit and have conversations with the child to determine the level of maturity and understanding. The child’s vocabulary is taken into consideration as well. They must be able to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively.

If the child is older, there is a higher chance the judge will allow them to testify at a custody trial, but it is infrequent for a child under 12 to be allowed to do so.

How Important is the Child’s Testimony?

The court does consider a child’s preference when deciding a custody hearing; they will never leave the decision entirely up to the child. An older child’s testimony is usually considered more heavily than a younger child’s.

How Does a Child Provide Testimony?

When a child is allowed to testify in a child custody trial, the judge can hear that testimony one of two ways.

The judge will often bring the child into chambers and hear the testimony with only the lawyers and the court reporters in the room. This option alleviates undue pressure on the child and encourages them to be as truthful as possible without their parents present. During this type of testimony, the lawyers are not usually allowed to share what the child says with the parents.

The other option is to have the child provide their testimony in court like any other witness. This type of child testimony is often allowed in cases of abuse and neglect allegations because of the accused parent’s due process rights.

The accused parent could claim it violated their rights if the child’s testimony is taken in the privacy of the judge’s chambers. If a child can testify in court, they must file a notice at least 60 days before the hearing date.

Why Do You Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

Custody hearings, especially heated ones, can be difficult to navigate. A qualified, experienced family law attorney can help make the process easier. Court proceedings can come with a mountain of paperwork, and an attorney can help ensure you fill out the necessary paperwork correctly.

Custody hearing often involves high levels of emotion, and when emotions are involved, it is sometimes difficult to get your thoughts and feelings out coherently. An experienced attorney can help communicate your point of view effectively and negotiate on your behalf. It can result in an ideal custody arrangement after the trial.

If necessary, an attorney has the resources to collect evidence against your ex-partner and prove that you are the parent that you can trust to respect the parameters of the custody agreement and encourage a healthy custody exchange in instances of shared custody.

The Best Child Custody Lawyer in NC

Having strong legal support can make all the difference during custody hearings. If you are looking for a family lawyer experienced in custody laws in NC, consider contacting Mercedes Chut in Greensboro, NC. She has the knowledge and resources to communicate your wishes and negotiate.

Mercedes Chut provides strong and dependable legal guidance to help get the best possible outcome for your custody hearing. Her goal is to work hard to find a solution that meets her client’s best interests. Contact Mercedes Chut today to learn more about how she can help you with your custody proceedings.

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