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Children and Divorce – Children as Witnesses

Child with hands over mouth as if unwilling to speak or provide testimony

What’s goes on behind the closed doors of a family home are known only to those that live there. So, what happens when Mom and Dad have different versions of what happened in the marital home?  Often, the only other witnesses are the children.  The children see or hear the domestic violence, the strange men or women who may visit when one parent is out of town, or the strange behavior a parent exhibits when high on drugs.  Once the parents separate, the children may be the only witnesses to what happens with one of the parents.  However, children should only be asked to testify when absolutely necessary, especially when they are being asked to testify about a parent.

Children love their parents.  Children can forgive all sorts of things their parents do wrong.  Children can overlook violence, abuse, drug use, and a host of other offenses, because children want to love their parents, the people that they depend on for food, clothing, shelter and love.  When you ask a child to testify against a parent, it’s difficult for a child to reconcile the reality of what a parent may have done with the need and desire to continue loving that parent.  The situation puts children in a very difficult position, which can sometimes result in unreliable testimony.  Children will often say what they think is expected of them, rather than telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  The very act of forcing a child to testify against a parent can cause grievous harm to the parent-child relationship.

Although it is sometimes unavoidable to have a child testify in a custody case, there are numerous alternatives to avoid putting a child in the middle the dispute.  The most successful divorces and custody disputes are those that remain focused on the best interests of the children.  For assistance in handling a child custody dispute, call 678-535-3232 to schedule an appointment with a Paulding County family law attorney.

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