Children's participation and testimony in California family court proceedings based on 2019 rulings:
Children's participation in California Courts are decided based on the merits of each case. There is no certain ruling to encourage or discourage the child from participation. The court however balances the recommendation of participation based on protecting the child and the rights of parties or opposing parties to be able to challenge the evidence in legally and reasonably accepted manners. This in particular is important in making custody decisions.
The parties, as followed MUST inform the court if the child wishes to participate: Minor's lawyer, Evaluator, Child custody lawyer, an investigator.
The parties, as followed MAY inform the court of ANY information regarding child's desire to participate.
And in the absence of all above, judicial officer MAY inquire Whether the child wishes to participate.
The court determines the child's best interest according to the following:
1-If the child requests to address the court, judicial officer MUST consider.
2-If the child is 14 years or older, judicial officer MUST hear the child, UNLESS court MAKES a FINDING that it is NOT to the child's best interest to accept child's participation or testimony.
3-The mental capacity and intelligence of the child
4-The child's understanding of the nature of her/his testimony.
5-Whether the information puts the child EMOTIONALLY at risk.
6-The Potential benefit of the child's testimony to his or her benefit.
7-Other factors in favor or against child's testimony.
8-Whether the circumstances can be provided that the child CAN BE OPEN and HONEST.
Important note: No testimony of a child is accepted UNLESS such testimony is recorded and heard by both parties.
Important note: Testifying child may have an INDEPENDENT Lawyer to be appointed for her/him by court.
This is a California Family Law legal blog. It is not intended to be used as legal advice. For further information please contact the law offices of attorney Ramona Kennedy.
Ramona Kennedy (Attorney) received her Jurisprudence Doctorate in America and is a licensed attorney in California (USA).
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