Now Hiring Experienced Attorneys

Call Now

Call Now

Call Now

Blog

“No Way (S)He is Calling Our Child at Trial!” Five ways to Make Children Heard without Calling Them as Witnesses

In custody matters, the best interests of the children are paramount, and the process seeks to determine who shall have physical and/or legal custody of the minor children of the parties. However, the parents are the parties to a custody matter, not children, and in fact, children’s statements are generally hearsay, and not admissible in Court under the Rules of Evidence. So, how are children heard in the judicial system? There are several ways.

There was a previous presumption that a child under age ten (10) was an incompetent witness. This has been repealed (revoked) for several years. So, one way for children to be heard is for them to be called as witnesses if they are competent (generally, can tell the truth from a lie) or to request an in camera interview (children have conversation with the judge). However, this is often discouraged by both parents and Courts due to the antagonistic nature of proceedings, and the desire not to put children in that position to testify against one or both of their parents.

There are several potential means for children to be heard in custody matters directly and indirectly.

  1. Parenting Coordinators: A parenting coordinator works with parents to help resolve parenting time and custody issues prior to taking the matters to Court. There are differing levels of parenting coordinators, depending on the needs of the parties. A parenting coordinator may likely not communicate directly with the children, but will hear the parents’ sides and make a recommendation to the Court. A parenting coordinator can make binding recommendations which can be directly adopted and approved by the Court. Either parent can move to discharge a parenting coordinator.
  2. GAL/CASA: These resources provide a voice to the children, and interview the children directly and often with each parent. A GAL or CASA may be an attorney, social worker, or psychologist. They focus on the best interests of the children, and make a report, which often costs less than a custody evaluation.
  3. Custody Evaluation: These are performed by a provider (generally, Ph.D. level) who interview the children and parents and often perform mental health testing of the parents. Custody evaluators follow APA (American Psychological Association) guidelines and submit a report to the Court with recommendations. There are higher costs associated with a custody evaluation.
  4. DRCB: This stands for Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau. It is a product of statute, and is similar to a custody evaluation, and Ordered through the Court.
  5. Counselor/therapist: If children are in private therapy before or during a custody proceeding, the therapist may play a role in expressing the voice of the children. However, there are risks that if one parent is involved with/ “running” therapy, that parent’s views will be more known to the counselor. Also, therapy may not address each root problem if both parents are not involved with same.

Ultimately, the best interests of children is always the goal, and Courts can use or choose not

to use information from the sources above. Knowing how to give your child a voice during a custody matter can help you and your child feel more comfortable, and there are several options available.

We hope that this blog has been helpful in exploring children’s voices in custody matters. This blog is not intended as legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on email
Email

We Listen & Care

Proven & experienced attorneys successfully advocating & resolving complex cases for over 25 years

Quick Contact

Need to talk now? Fill out the quick form below and we will contact you directly.
Blog Categories

Get In Touch

We're available to answer your questions 24/7.

Related Videos

Contact Us

Please fill out the form below and we will be in touch with you shortly.

Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

Copyright © 2021 Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. This Site does not provide legal advice; please review the disclaimer for other limitations. Privacy Policy

Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Ciyou & Dixon will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. In addition, this practice focus is augmented by the firm's other three core areas, namely appellate advocacy, civil practice, and firearms law. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counselSM.

Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. of Indianapolis, Indiana, offers legal services for Indianapolis, Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Avon, Anderson, Danville, Greenwood, Brownsburg, Geist, Fortville, McCordsville, Muncie, Greenfield, Westfield, Fort Wayne, Fishers, Bloomington, Lafayette, Marion County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Allen County, Delaware County, Morgan County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Vigo County, Johnson County, Hancock County, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana.