Separation and Divorce

A Child's Input in a Court Case During a Separation or Divorce


Some parents cannot get along after they break up. They need to go to a court trial to get a decision on issues arising from the breakup. Can a child be asked to answer questions during the trial? (A trial is a kind of court hearing before a judge.)

Children Testifying at Trial

Children who are old enough can be called to answer questions at their parents’ trial, especially if they want the judge to hear their point of view.

Children might well want to give their opinions to the judge by testifying, which means answering questions. The law says that children have the right to express themselves on issues that affect them, as long as they are old enough and mature enough.

However, it can be difficult for children to be involved in this way in their parents’ fight.

For this reason, lawyers usually try to find other ways for children to give their opinions, other than testifying in court.

How to Protect Children Who Testify

Children who testify are treated differently from adults who testify. Here are some ways to protect children who testify:

  • Some of the court formalities are not followed. For example, the judge and lawyers can remove their robes.
  • The children’s parents are not in the courtroom.
  • The children talk to the judge outside the courtroom, for example, in the judge’s office.
  • A person can accompany children to help and reassure them.
  • Children can be represented by their own lawyers, who can talk for them and explain their opinions to the judge.

Everything about the testimony must be in the best interests of the child.