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Considering Children’s Wishes in Custody Hearings

If you are wondering if your child has the ability to testify in court, the answer is yes. In most cases, though, this is not common practice. Divorce can be difficult for anyone to go through.  When children are involved, the stakes are raised. Many parents opt to keep their children out of the courtroom and do not want them to be subjected to testifying because it can be a difficult proposition for youngsters.  

Additionally, children who are not deemed competent for testimony will not have the opportunity to make any determinations regarding custody. Factors that determine if a child is competent include understanding what truth is versus a lie as well as the ability to promise to speak the truth.

Alternatives to Court Testimony

In the state of Indiana there are laws that will give a judge the ability to speak with your child in a private setting. This allows the judge to get a better understanding of what the child would prefer in custody situations or in terms of visitation between parents. The state considers the age of 14 to be the appropriate age for a child to offer his or her opinions and preferences. If the child is old enough, the judge is likely to use his or her feedback when determining the final outcome.

In what is considered an “in-camera interview,” a judge can be requested to speak to the child either by either of the child’s parents or the attorney of the parent.  After the request is made, the judge will decide whether or not to proceed in a conversation with the child. Should the judge decide to have a conversation with your child, you are not permitted to attend that meeting.  In some cases, the judge may permit your attorney to be present but in most situations, it is a conversation between your child and the judge only.

Outcomes of a Private Meeting with a Judge

The judge will use the information the child provides as one of the factors that will go into his or her decision. The judge will not necessarily do exactly what the child asks. If the child is 14 years of age or older, then his or her feedback will have much more weight than that of a younger child. When the final decision is made, it is important for the judge to use all the information from the hearing, not solely the wishes of the child alone. The Judge will always do what is best for the child and aim to promote positive child-parent interactions and relationships with each parent when possible.

Contacting an Indiana Family Law Attorney

Any negative impact of divorce on a child should always be minimized. If you are going through a divorce and you have children, it is best to seek the guidance of an experienced Family Law Attorney. Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. knows how important achieving a balanced and healthy outcome is for your children and the new dynamic of your family.  Divorce is a stressful situation that requires an aggressive and experienced attorney who can fight on your behalf. Call our Danville Law Firm today at 317-745-4494 and set up an appointment to discuss your case at a time that is most convenient for your schedule.

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