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Can a Child Testify in Family Court Against Their Parents?

by | May 18, 2022 | Uncategorized |

During a Michigan child custody case in which custody is disputed between the parents, or in cases involving allegations of domestic violence, you may be wondering if the court can require a child to testify against a parent, or if a court can allow a child to testify against a parent if the child wants to do so or if a parent wants the child to testify. If your child does not want to live with your ex, or if there are other issues in the custody case, you may be wondering: can my daughter testify in court against her father? Generally speaking, Michigan does not usually have children testify in a custody or family law proceeding, but there are circumstances in which a child could testify. 

Child Custody and Family Law Cases Usually Involve a Friend of the Court Who Speaks to the Child

Before a child is asked to provide information to a court in a child custody case, the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau will often be involved in conducting interviews with the child, and in cases where there are allegations of child abuse, neglect, or other violent offenses, a Lawyer-Guardian ad Litem (L-GAL) may be appointed under Michigan law to advocate for the child. Michigan law makes clear that the L-GAL acts as an “independent representative of the child’s best interests,” and that the L-GAL’s “duty is to the child, and not the court.” The L-GAL will conduct an investigation and determine what is in the child’s best interests.

Judge Might Speak with a Child Privately in Chambers

In circumstances where the court or the judge might want information directly from the child, the child will often be asked to speak with a judge privately in chambers instead of testifying in court during a hearing. The parents are not typically present if a child is speaking to the judge in chambers. At that point, the judge can also determine whether it is necessary for the child to testify.

Children Are Not Prohibited from Testifying

If the judge considers it necessary, or if a child is mature enough to emphasize a desire to testify in a custody case, there are circumstances in which your daughter could testify in court against her father. The types of situations in which a child will testify against a parent are typically those in which there are serious criminal allegations of violence or abuse, and the child’s voice can make a difference in the court proceeding. Michigan law does not prevent a child who is mature enough to testify from doing so, but courts typically consider other options before a child does testify in a court hearing.

Contact an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Michigan

Do you have questions or concerns about how your child will have a voice in a Michigan child custody case? Or do you want to know more about how courts handle custody cases and family law matters in which children may be able to provide important information about a parent in a custody case or other family matter? An experienced Michigan family law attorney can provide you with more information. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today to learn more about how we can help with your child custody case and other family law matters in Michigan.