Testimony of Children in California Custody Proceedings

As an approved expert for Orange County Superior Court, Dr. Miriam Galindo helps to ensure that custody proceedings protect the best interests of minor children. Dr. Miriam Galindo also provides co-parenting and child counseling for young people involved in contested divorce cases.

In the state of California, courts do not force a child to testify against his or her will. However, courts do permit a child 14 years of age or older testify to his or her preference of custodial parent unless doing so would not be in the minor’s best interest.

If testifying in court is deemed not to be in the best interest of the minor, the court must provide an alternative means of learning the child’s thoughts on the matter. This typically involves enlisting the services of a guardian ad litem, evaluator, or other professional, who speaks with the child and confers his or her opinion in court.

A child younger than 14 may testify if a court determines that he or she is sufficiently mature to state an informed opinion. Younger children may also share their opinions via a mediator or other third party, though the court may take into consideration the age and intellectual abilities of the child. Furthermore, if the child is younger or easily influenced on a particular topic, the court may request that the child testify in chambers and away from the parents.

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