Can a child under the age of 12 testify against a parent if there is no abuse involved? 14 Answers as of February 06, 2013

My boyfriend has joint custody of his two kids that are under the age of 12. He has them a week and she has them a week. His ex is trying to get them to go against him in court and be a witness about him drinking and driving while he has them which is not true. Can they do that and with them having joint custody can they talk to a lawyer without him knowing?

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Fran Brochstein
Fran Brochstein | Fran Brochstein
Your boyfriend needs to immediately hire the best, toughest and most experienced family law attorney he can afford. Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens in family law court. The other parent can ask that the judge interview any child over the age of 12 in the judge's chamber alone. I know of at least one case where this "blew up" for the mother because the child showed up with notes written by the mother & the judge walked out with the notes the attorneys were called into the judge's chambers & the mom's attorney came out a few minutes very red & flustered. Mom & the attorney had a very heated discussion in a private room and the case quickly settled in dad's favor. I assume that dad has lots of people willing to testify about his excellent reputation at trial. I also assume that dad has no recent arrests or tickets for DUI. If dad drinks any liquor, as of right now, he just quit drinking anything harder than coffee or tea. Also, attending church never hurt anyone either. Lastly, if you want to be in the courtroom by his side at the trial, then the two of you need to be married so go get married tomorrow.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 2/6/2013
The Law Office of Erin Farley
The Law Office of Erin Farley | Erin Farley
The court will take precautions. Likely the children will be talking to the mediator as opposed to the judge. Still, involving children in family law disputes is never good for the children. See if mom would agree to put the children in counseling and release the privilege so that the children can stay out of the action altogether.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 2/4/2013
John Russo | John Russo
First of all shame on anyone who involves children of that age in court proceedings unless there is a strong certainty of severe abuse, but with that being said all jurisdictions have different rules on these types of issues, all I can tell you is that here in R.I. and most of the surrounding States the answer is No on these types of matters, but the other side can file a motion for what is called, " in-camara" What this is asking is for the Judge to speck to the children in chambers, sometimes the attorney's are present sometimes not, also there is sometimes a steno presents to place it on the record. Now most good family court judges who do in-camara's are very gentle with the child and know how to ask questions to determine if the child has been told what to say, some judges do like this procedure and will not do, so the only other option would be to have someone from the courts investigated unit speak to the children outside the court confines, but to have a 12 year old come into court and testify, does not happen here, and not in any other jurisdictions that I am aware of. Moreover, here if one of the parents just brought children of that age to court without being ordered to do so and the judge is made aware, there could be a problem for that parent, children of that age are forbidden to be in the court room without prior court approval, and even when there is an in-camara most judges have the children brought up on the private elevator to the back halls where chambers are. Children have enough issues just growing up without being exposed to this ever increasing sick society via the Judicial system. I see this all the time and frankly have become more, and more perplexed after all this years at how one, or both parents can use children to get at the other parent, what people fail to understand, or are just simply blind too, is that kids love their mother, and they love their father, for the most part, and they are being forced within disputes not of their making, for reasons they fail to understand, and are used as ploys by one parent against the other, SICK. Sorry to preach but I have been doing this for a lot of years, and it just seems to get worse, instead of better. As far as them specking with the attorney I don't do that for my own reasons, I have maybe once or twice over the past 15-20 years but for a serve abuse allegation only, but there is nothing wrong with an attorney doing it from a legal perspective, but then again some lawyers are worse then the parents.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 2/1/2013
Cantin Lawyers PC | John Morris
On Connecticut my experience is that most if our judges refuse to permit the children anywhere near the courthouse. At most , if there is an issue involving the children a GAL is appointed to talk to the child out of court and the GAL would testify.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 2/1/2013
Hamblin Law Office | Sally Hamblin
Yes, can talk to lawyer without consent or even telling. The judge determines whether any age minor in custody dispute should testify.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 2/1/2013
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    Depending on their actual age and maturity they could be interviewed by the judge. It is also possible they could speak with mother and her attorney during her parenting tie just as they can speak with dad and his attorney during his parenting time. However, it is my strongest opinion that placing the children at their age into an interview with one parent and their attorney only is NOT desireable, regardless of the fact it may be "legal".
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Carey and Leisure | John Smitten
    Kids can testify as a fact witness, not to give their opinion as to who they want to live with.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Reger Rizzo & Darnall LLP | Kathleen DeLacy
    Courts frown upon children testifying but you can request the Judge interview the child.
    Answer Applies to: Delaware
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Law Firm of Jeffrey A. Conner, Esq. | Jeffrey Conner
    Before the children can testify in Court, a motion must be filed and a hearing conducted by the Judge and the Judge determines if the children will testify. Otherwise the children are not to even be brought to the courthouse. Judges prefer that children not be involved in litigation between the parents. There is, however, no specific prohibition for the children to speak to the Mother's attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc.
    Wolfstone, Panchot & Bloch, P.S., Inc. | Mark Brown
    Children can talk to a lawyer at any age. (Incidentally, there is no legal significance whatsoever to being under or over the age of 12. Persons under the age of 18 are minors - "children" in the eyes of the law). That being said, courts generally DO NOT accept written statements or testimony offered on behalf of minor children. In Washington, there are court rules prohibiting it; and Judges distain involving children in court proceedings.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    Whether children can testify or not is usually up to the court. I can tell you that most judges do not like to have children this young testify and will normally not allow it. Parents can allow children to speak to attorneys but most attorneys also don't like to do this.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF ANNE B. HOWARD | Anne B. Howard
    All depends on whether the judge will allow children under 12 to testify.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Donaldson Stewart, PC
    Donaldson Stewart, PC | Monica H. Donaldson Stewart
    The court will not permit the children to testify against a parent in a family court proceeding. There are situations where the court might agree for children to be interviewed, usually by a counselor who works for the court, but it depends on the age of the children and whether the court believes it would be contrary to their best interests to become so "directly involved" in the dispute.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 2/1/2013
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Your boyfriend needs to meet with a family law attorney . This is very dangerous for him, and he needs professional guidance to get out of it.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 2/1/2013
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