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How Old Do The Children Have To Be Before They Can Speak To The Judge About With Whom They Want To Live?

How old do the children have to be before they can speak to the judge about with whom they want to live?

It depends upon the judge. There is no set age at which children are allowed to speak to the judge about their preferences as to custody.

If either you or your spouse wants the judge to listen to what your child has to say, a request is ordinarily made to the judge to have the child speak to the judge in the judge’s office (chambers) rather than from the witness stand. Depending upon the judge’s decision, the attorneys for you and your spouse may also be present.

It is possible that the judge may also allow the attorneys to question the child. If you have concerns about the other parent learning what your child says to the judge, talk to your lawyer about the possibility of obtaining a directive from the court to keep this information confidential.

Typically the testimony of the child is made “on the record,” that is, in the presence of a court reporter. This is so the testimony can be transcribed later in the event of an appeal.

In addition to the age of a child, a judge may consider such facts as the child’s maturity and personality in determining whether an interview of the child by the judge will be helpful to the custody decision-making process.

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