Can A Child Testify In A Florida Divorce Case?
If you are about to get a Florida divorce and have a minor child, you may be wondering if children can testify in a Florida divorce case. Perhaps you are hoping that your child can testify in your case. Or maybe you’re feeling frustrated at the thought that your child might be asked to testify in your case. So, can a child testify in a Florida divorce case?
In Florida, there is a general prohibition against requiring children to testify in a deposition or during a hearing. Under Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure Rule 12.407, children may not have their deposition taken, be taken to court to be witnesses, attend a hearing, or be summoned at a hearing without a prior court order. This means the attorney must file a motion and demonstrate that the child’s testimony is needed and that it would not be detrimental to the child to testify.
Thus, it is possible a child might to be allowed or required to testify in a Florida divorce case. If you’re worried about your child being asked to testify in your Florida divorce case or would like to know if your child can be allowed to testify in your Florida divorce case, consult with a divorce lawyer.
When Can a Minor Child Testify in a Florida Divorce Case?
Generally, Florida courts are willing to let a child testify in a divorce case if there is a compelling reason to do so. If the court finds that “good cause” for a child to be involved in a divorce case exists, it will issue an order allowing the child to testify or attend a deposition.
So, how does the court determine whether “good cause” to hear a child’s testimony exists? Usually, courts assess several factors when determining whether “good cause” to allow a child to testify exists. For example, the court weighs whether the child’s testimony would be “necessary and relevant” to the divorce case. The court considers whether the issue at hand relates to a serious matter, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or neglect. Also, the court considers the child’s age and ability to understand the legal requirements of telling the truth and understanding the process. The Court also weighs whether there is a possibility that the child will be traumatized if he or she testifies.
If a judge finds that “good cause” for a minor child to be involved in a divorce case exists, he or she may decide to hear the child’s testimony in open court or by conducting a private interview. Judges often choose to listen to a child’s testimony through a private interview. Depending on the situation, a judge may or may not allow a child’s parents and their attorneys to be present during the interview. This is referred to as testimony “in camera,” which means outside the presence of the parents, and often the attorneys.
In conclusion, it is crucial to note that a Florida court may only consider allowing a child to testify in court if a party petitions the court to allow the child to testify. Once a petition is filed, the court sets a hearing so that the petitioner can have a chance to explain why his or her motion should be granted, and the other party can have an opportunity to explain why the motion should not be granted. If a petitioner convinces the judge there’s a compelling reason to allow a child to testify, the petition will be granted.
Contact Our Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer
If you want to talk to a qualified divorce lawyer serving clients in Florida, speak to one of our Jacksonville divorce lawyers at The Lasky Law Firm at 904-399-1644.