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Should Your Child Testify in Your Custody Battle?

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Bringing a child into a custody dispute can be a difficult choice. After all, the child is already going through the turbulent experience of watching his/her parents separate, and this alone can psychologically impact the child if not handled with the best of care.

However, there may be some instances, particularly in difficult divorces, where the child’s testimony is critical in ensuring the custody arrangement is designed to meet the child’s best interests. However, these situations should be handled with care, as it is a painful experience to have to subject a child to the intensity of the litigation process when it is not absolutely necessary. That’s why we’re sharing three important questions that you should consider when determining whether your child should testify in a custody dispute.

Is it necessary?

Sometimes, in the emotional turmoil of a divorce situation, a person will want a child to testify out of mere spite for the other party. Of course, the parent who wants the child to testify will find as many ways as he or she can to justify this, but it takes some inner reflection to determine why, exactly, the child needs to testify.

Could it have a long-term effect on your child?

Legal cases can be complex, and they provide enough emotional anguish for everyone involved. Asking a child to testify in a divorce case can be like asking the child to pick sides, which can lead to serious repercussions down the road. The child is at the risk of damaging his or her relationship with either party, and anything that arises in this testimony could dampen relationships between the parents. This can prove extremely problematic when both parents must co-parent post-divorce.

Will the Judge hear what the child is saying or blame the parent for putting him or her in a bad situation?

If the Court finds subjecting the child to Court was not necessary, the Court may use this to prove the parent is selfish and has poor boundaries with his or her children. Using your child as a witness could actually backfire and hurt your custody case, so you must think long and hard before doing it.

If you’re thinking of asking your child to testify in your custody dispute, think carefully about the factors above and weigh the benefits against the potential long-term harm to the child. If it is absolutely necessary, it may benefit you to seek out a child psychologist who can help your child through this difficult process.

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