Will my child have to testify in court?
To say divorce is tough is an understatement and facing this challenge can very well be the hardest thing you may ever have to deal with. Amongst all of the unknown ahead of you, the impact it will have on the children involved will always be paramount. Fortunately, Connecticut courts are very sensitive to the challenges and pressure added to a child who is made to testify and typically will not require the child to do so on the witness stand. If the judge desires information from the child or children, more often than not, the judge will request the parents’ permission to interview the child in chambers, without the parents present. If the request is denied by the parents, the judge may request a family relations counselor, psychiatrist, or psychologist to discover the child’s preference and report back to the court. The court may also listen to limited remarks of other witnesses who have spoken with the child, although that testimony won’t be given as much weight as statements made directly by the child.
If the child is brought into chambers for an interview, the attorney for each parent are commonly given the opportunity to observe, but that may not always be the case. To ease pressure on the child, questions will typically be asked by the judge and not by the attorneys, although the judge may allow for each attorney to suggest topics or questions. If a child has their own legal representation, he or she will also be present, and if the child doesn’t have an attorney, a domestic relations officer will sometimes sit in on the interview to represent the child’s interests. As with any witness, it is never a good idea to attempt to coach the child being interviewed.
By either a present court reporter or notes from the judge, the interview will be recorded, documenting the content of the interview.