Will My Child Have to Testify in Court in NC?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally challenging experience, especially when there are children involved. One of the most common questions parents have when it comes to custody battles is whether their child will have to testify in court.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the answer to that question and guide you on what to do if you find yourself in this difficult situation. For more help, contact a divorce lawyer at Apple Payne Law.

Subpoenaing a Child to Testify

The short answer to whether your child will have to testify is, “not really.”

While an attorney can subpoena a child to testify in a child custody hearing, judges typically do not want to hear from children, especially in Forsyth County. There are times and cases when children should testify, but these instances are rare.

Forcing a Child to Testify

If you force a child to testify, particularly against their will, it is almost certain to backfire. Judges are unlikely to be happy with a parent who puts their child through such an experience. If a child is too eager to testify, it may look staged or driven by the parent.

Parents who rehearse their child’s testimony or use phrases that a parent would use can expect their efforts to backfire spectacularly.

When a Child Should Testify

Age is crucial in determining whether a child should testify. If the child is 14-17 years old and has witnessed something or has a strong preference they can articulate, they may testify. However, their preference should not be something their parent has told them.

For example, telling a child that their dad is on drugs or their mom is always drinking would not qualify as a good reason for a child to testify. If the other parent cannot attend court, the child may also be called upon to testify.

The Stress of Testifying

While having a child testify in court may seem appealing to some parents, it’s not an experience that anyone should go through lightly. Testifying can be incredibly stressful, especially for younger children.

If you’re considering having your child testify, it’s important to consider their feelings and understand the potential impact it could have on their emotional well-being.

Using a Guardian Ad Litem

In cases where a child’s testimony may be necessary, it’s best to use a guardian ad litem instead. A guardian ad litem is a neutral third party appointed by the court to represent the child’s best interests. They can gather information, interview witnesses, and make recommendations to the court.

The testimony of a guardian ad litem is more likely to be given weight by a judge than that of a child, who may be seen as a mouthpiece for one of the parents.

Contact Apple Payne Law

The answer to whether your child will have to testify in a custody case is “probably not.” While there are cases where a child’s testimony may be necessary, it’s rare, and judges typically do not want to hear from children.

If you find yourself in a messy custody case where a child’s testimony may be necessary, it’s best to contact a family law attorney with experience handling these cases.

At Apple Payne Law in Kernersville, we have the experience necessary to help you navigate the complexities of a custody battle and ensure that your family is best represented in court. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Bio

Ronald D. Payne II
Ronald D. Payne II is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Apple Payne Law, a North Carolina law firm he founded in 2018. With more than 11 years of experience practicing law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including business law, estate planning, family law, probate, and traffic law.

Ronald received his Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded the 2020 Client’s Choice Award by Avvo and multiple Rising Star awards from Super Lawyers.

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