Can Children Testify for Child Custody?Putnam Law Office
Many people are surprised to learn that children can sometimes testify for child custody. This depends on different factors and may or may not influence child custody decisions depending on other factors. Ultimately, the judge will decide what happens with the child based on the best interests of the child standard. If you have any concerns, talk to an Oklahoma City family lawyer about your situation.
When Can a Child Testify for Child Custody?
Children can testify for child custody under certain circumstances. In general, family courts in Oklahoma consider children who are 12 years old or older to be mature enough to testify. This is in regard to children testifying their child custody preference in terms of which parent they want to live with.
However, either parent can argue that the child is not mature enough despite their age. If the parent provides enough evidence to support this, the child’s testimony could be blocked. In either situation, the family court judge does not have to agree with the child’s testimony and can decide against the child’s wishes.
In terms of how the testimony will happen, this can vary. The child might testify alone in a room with the judge. When a guardian ad litem is involved, the child may have to testify with the guardian ad litem and the judge. Some cases may involve the parents and lawyers in the same room.
Parents and lawyers can also come up with questions for the judge to ask the child, but they may not be used. The judge will decide whether such questions are relevant or necessary to ask the child. Much of this is based on the best interests of the child standard, something that can affect whether the judge uses the child’s preferences.
During the testimony, the child will say which parent they want to live with. The judge is not bound by the child’s preferences and can decide against these if the best interests of the child standard supports this.
What Are the Best Interests of the Child Standard?
The best interests of the child standard protects the child’s physical and mental well-being. This considers the child’s:
- Protection from harm
- Emotional ties to family
- Ability to have basic needs met
In other words, a judge may decide against the child’s preferences if those preferences will cause harm to the child. Some children may not foresee the harm and risks that could come with their choice of parent to live with. Judges must consider a variety of information for this decision.
If you have questions, consider contacting an Oklahoma City divorce lawyer to see what your options are.
Family Lawyer in Oklahoma City
The fear of losing custody of your child during a divorce trial can be stressful. Try asking an Oklahoma divorce attorney for help if you are not sure. Contact the Putnam Law Office today by dialing (405)-849-9149 for a consultation. We can work with you to figure out the best options for your divorce case. Mr. Putnam is a dedicated lawyer in Oklahoma City, OK who is prepared to help you work towards your divorce goals.