As the best child custody lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “when can the court interview my child?” I want to talk to you about an issue that comes up often in child custody cases, and that is a parent coming into the office and saying “I want my child to be able to tell the judge what he or she wants. Can we ask the court to interview my child?” Unfortunately, it’s not a clear cut answer.
It is certainly the case that in Arizona, courts consider the wishes of a child based on their age and maturity, but it’s also important to understand that judges are very reluctant to involve kids in court cases. In most cases, if your child is ten years old or younger, it’s probably unlikely that a judge is going to allow that child to be interviewed. Most judges feel that that is just simply not old enough for a child to understand really what they want or the consequences of what they want.
Now, of course, the judge can certainly consider the maturity of your child. So if you believe that your child is particularly mature for a nine or ten year old, that’s something you can certainly argue to the court. In most cases, if a child is going to be interviewed, they are going to be twelve or thirteen years old or older, and usually there has to once again be some sort of substantial change in circumstances that necessitates you coming back to court and asking the judge to either change your custody orders or, if you’re at the beginning of a case, for example, in divorce, in establishing your parenting plan. In addition to changes in circumstance or specific cases where a judge may allow a child to be interviewed, that could be a case where there’s been allegations of abuse. It could be a case involving allegations of domestic violence or substance abuse, but once again keep in mind the judges are very hesitant to involve kids in cases in any form, including being interviewed. For the most part, teenagers are where judges begin allowing kids to be interviewed.
With that being said, we do understand there are times that it’s appropriate for children to be interviewed and have their wishes known. So if you believe your case involves a situation where you believe your child should be interviewed, please contact us here at the law offices of Kevin Jensen and schedule a time to meet with one of our attorneys. We’re confident we can provide you the guidance and advice you need to know whether or not your case is appropriate for a child interview. Thank you.
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