Will My Child Be Called to Testify in the Florida Divorce Case?
It’s somewhat frustrating to imagine a minor child standing in front of a judge and providing testimony in their parent’s divorce proceedings. But do Florida courts even allow children to testify in divorce cases?
If you are worried that your child could be called to take the stand and testify in the divorce proceedings, consult with an Orlando family lawyer to determine whether the court should preclude the calling of a child as a witness. Speak with our attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group to guide you through your situation.
Can children testify in divorce proceedings?
Florida law limits child involvement in divorce proceedings (Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Rule 12.407). Under the rule, family courts do not allow children to testify or participate in depositions or divorce proceedings.
However, the only exception to the rule is when the court issues an order allowing a child to testify or attend a deposition. An order can be issued if the court discovers evidence establishing “good cause” for the child’s involvement in divorce litigation.
In other words, the court must first determine whether the child’s testimony would be “necessary and relevant” to the divorce case before ordering the child to testify in court.
Thus, children are generally not allowed to testify in Florida divorce cases. The rule also prevents parents from bringing their child to court to provide testimony in their favor or against the other parent.
If the court finds good cause to hear the child’s testimony, the judge will be allowed to interview the child privately.
Is a child’s preference considered in Florida child custody cases?
While most states set a particular age when judges may consider a child’s preference to live with either parent, under Florida law, the child’s preference may be taken into account depending on their overall maturity.
When determining whether to consider the child’s preference in a child custody case, the judge will look at the following factors:
- Whether the child is intelligent enough to express a preference;
- Whether the child has sufficient understanding of the decision; and
- Whether the child’s decision is meaningful.
The judge may consider the child’s preference to live with one parent over the other if the child is mature enough to make an intelligent decision. There is no particular age at which a child’s preference is considered in Florida child custody cases.
Also, even if the child’s wishes are taken into account, the court is not required to base its custody decision solely on the child’s preference. As provided in Section 61.13, Florida Statutes, there are many other factors that must be considered when awarding sole or joint custody.
Can you file a motion to request the child’s testimony?
Yes, a parent can file a motion to request the child’s testimony. However, the parent must explain why the child should be called to testify and establish “good cause” for the child’s involvement in divorce proceedings.
If you are considering submitting a petition to require a child’s testimony in your divorce case or want to prevent the other parent from bringing your child to court, speak with an Orlando family lawyer. Schedule a consultation with our divorce attorneys at Donna Hung Law Group. Call at 407-999-0099 to discuss your case.