The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

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1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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Can Children Testify in Court in Illinois Divorce Proceedings?

Posted on in Divorce

Illinois family law attorneyDivorce is emotionally draining for everyone involved, but for children it can be especially difficult. Parents frequently disagree about how to share parental responsibilities and parenting time, and these conflicts often play out in front of children. 

Divorcing parents who struggle to compromise on issues such as where their child will live, where the child will spend holidays, and who has the right to make major decisions regarding the child’s upbringing may find themselves in divorce court litigating their disagreements in a trial. Unfortunately, when this happens, the child’s best interests may be compromised in light of the parent's conflict and the child may be more involved in the divorce proceedings than the parents had hoped. 

What Happens When Parents Cannot Resolve Custody Issues in Divorce? 

In a perfect world, all families would be able to make the divorce process smooth and amicable using mediation or collaborative divorce. In real life, however, parents who are unable to resolve their differences generally end up having a judge decide the issues for them. 

Once a custody case goes to trial, an Illinois judge will hear testimony and evidence from both sides, examine carefully what is in the best interests of the child, and then make a decision on behalf of the parents. This decision is legally binding and attempts to prioritize the child’s needs in the present and in the future. The judge, when possible, will also try to take the child’s preferences into consideration. This means the judge will likely want to hear from the child. 

Will a Judge Ask a Child to Testify in Court? 

In light of the trauma and pressure involved in giving court testimony, children are almost never required to take the witness stand or allowed to be questioned by judges or attorneys in front of their parents. Children naturally want to protect their parents and may be less likely to tell the truth about what they want or the reality of each parent’s home circumstances when their parents are able to see and hear them. 

Judges will therefore try to talk to most children in private. This can happen in the judge’s chambers or some other private area of the courthouse. The judge will gently try to get the child to share their preferences, as well as any concerns the child may have. If a judge is worried about the parents’ capabilities and feels unable to obtain necessary information from the parents alone, he or she may appoint a guardian ad litem or a custody evaluator to collect more information in order to make a decision about child custody matters. 

Speak with a Kane County Divorce Attorney

At The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C., we understand that wanting to protect your child from the negative emotional impact of divorce is natural. That is why we strive to advocate assertively on your behalf to make the divorce process as smooth as possible. If you are considering divorce and worrying about how it might affect you and your child, contact an experienced Aurora, IL divorce attorney today. Call us at 630-409-8184 to schedule your initial consultation. 

 

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+VI&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=8675000&SeqEnd=12200000

The Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C.

630-409-8184

1444 North Farnsworth Avenue, Suite 307, Aurora, IL 60505

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