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Children, divorce, and court appearances

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on December 9, 2014

courtCalifornia law recognizes that in some instances, a child or children must appear in court during divorce proceedings.  Sometimes they must even testify. However, state statutes describe in detail the rules and limitations regarding the treatment of child witnesses under the age of 14.  The well-being and safety of the child is foremost in such divorce-related issues as child custody, child support, parental and grandparents’ rights, and visitation.

The law attempts to protect children from undue harassment or embarrassment in court.  It restricts unnecessary repetition of questions, and also ensures that questions are stated in a form appropriate for witnesses of the child’s age.  However, even the best of intentions don’t succeed all of the time.  Sometimes, unfortunately, children might be placed in the center of a custody dispute between parents. This California family law addresses this too.  It states”…the court has an independent obligation to control examination of the child so as to protect the child’s best interests; and may require that information regarding the child’s preferences be obtained by a means other than calling the child as a witness. [CA Fam § 3042 (a) and (b)] …[T]he court acts properly when it requires any interrogation of the children to take place in chambers with only a court reporter and the parents’ attorneys present. [Marriage of Okum (1987) 195 Cal.App.3d 176, 240 Cal.Rptr. 458]

Emotional ties can dominate throughout a divorce.  That’s why we believe a highly experienced family law attorney ought to represent each parent.  Please remember, even when we quote the law in our blog, it is never intended as legal advice.  This is for information and/or discussion purposes only. If you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about child custody, child support, children’s legal standing in divorce proceedings, or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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