Is It Possible Your Child May Have to Testify?

In your divorce or custody case, it is disturbing and maybe even upsetting to think about your child having to take the stand in court. The concerns that your child will have to testify about concern the future of the child, private family matters and the problems between their parents, topics that are difficult to speak about even in casual circumstances, particularly when the topic is too personal and one or both parents may be offended by their words.

Florida Family Law Code of Procedure Rule 12.407 in family law cases, including divorces and those requiring child custody, prohibits child intervention where the child is a possible witness or is relevant to the case. Until the court first provides an order allowing the presence or testimony because the court found evidence showing "good cause" for the appearance, the court would not authorize the child to testify or attend a hearing or court hearing, nor can such a child be subpoenaed to make an appearance.

Excluding a judicial determination of reasonable cause, this provision forbids an adult from transporting their child to testify on important matters. The Court Commentary written with the regulation states that it is designed to discourage minor children's unneeded participation in family law cases. While a complete prohibition on child testimony is not permitted because a parent may need the testimony to obtain due process-a basic requirement of constitutional fairness-at least the judge must first decide that the testimony of the child is appropriate and applicable to matters before the court.

Should a judge determine that there is just cause for the testimony of a child, the judge may opt to privately question the child outside of the courtroom in their chambers.

This update is provided by the firm and Miami family lawlawyers of Rafool, LLC. We have a strong reputation throughout Florida and we have numerous years of experience representing clients involved in complex divorce cases as well as other family law matters. Should you have any domestic or family issues, we are here to assist you by providing educated advice and skilled, professional advocacy. Call 305-567-9400 to speak with one of our family law attorneys Miami.

This information is provided for educational or informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice.