Updated: Oct 6, 2021
The mother of three adolescent children just found out that her husband has been having an affair. She is devastated and does not know how to move forward. She decides it is time to pull the plug on her marriage after her husband refuses to show any signs of remorse. The mother chooses not to tell her children about the adultery so they will continue to hold a high opinion of their father. However, her husband is pushing for full custody of their children. She is concerned about her husband trying to influence her children’s testimony about where they would like to live. Will the court interview her children in court during the divorce process?
Do Children Have to Testify in Court in Child Custody Cases?
Divorce is stressful enough for children. Many parents are understandably worried about their child having to testify in an intimidating courtroom environment. Fortunately, in most cases, children do not have to testify in court to make their custody wishes known to the judge. Just try to avoid putting children on the witness stand, except in emergencies. In most cases, a judge will speak directly with the child in a more private interview in the judge's chambers.
This type of interview is called an “in camera” interview. Both parents’ lawyers should be present during the interview unless the parents agree otherwise. A court reporter will prepare a transcript of the interview. The judge may decide to seal the record of the child's interview, testimony, report, or any other investigation to benefit the child’s welfare.
What if My Spouse Tries to Influence My Child’s Testimony in a Child Custody Matter?
Parents have been known to try to manipulate their children to gain an advantage during child custody proceedings. Judges are aware of this and try to be as careful as possible when interviewing the children. Judges and therapists know how to look for signs that a child is being coerced to testify a certain way in favor of one parent. The judge will consider the child's ability to make independent decisions and age when determining how much weight to give the child's wishes.
Ultimately, the court will decide based on the child's best wishes according to Illinois law. Depending on a child's age and developmental skill, a child may think that their testimony to the judge will determine which parent with whom they live. Children may seem angry or betrayed when the outcome of the custody litigation does not coincide with their preferences. One of the best ways you can prepare yourself and your child is to discuss your case with your lawyer. Your lawyer will help you understand how the judge will make a decision and guide you through talking to your child about the interview and a fair and appropriate manner.
Discuss Your Case With a Schaumburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.
Author: Glasgow & Olsson Criminal & Divorce Trial Lawyers
Date: September 3, 2021