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Another state's testimony laws in child custody cases may change

Illinois parents who've divorced understand how challenging it can be to develop new parenting plans that keep children's best interests at heart. Many say children themselves should be consulted more often when it comes to decisions regarding child custody and visitation. In fact, one state is considering changing its current laws pertaining to the testimony of children in family court.

As of now, the state in question's laws limit the age a child may testify in a custody case to 14 or older. Advocates of newly proposed legislation say lowering that age to 10 would benefit most children, who could then clearly voice their own opinions when important issues involve them. This may prove especially beneficial in situations where parents disagree about what their child would prefer.

In all matters concerning child custody, support and/or visitation, the court has the final say. The court is usually of the opinion that children do best in shared-parenting situations whenever possible. If there is evidence that such an arrangement would be detrimental to a child in some way, the court may choose to restrict or prohibit custody or visitation.

Whether children as young as 10 should be allowed to be put on the witness stand in court in a child custody case is up for debate. Arguments can be made on both sides of the issue, and it remains to be seen if other states will follow the lead of the California legislators proposing this procedural change. For now, any Illinois parent concerned with such matters and facing unresolved divorce issues pertaining to parenting may consult with an experienced attorney for guidance.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "California lawmakers to weigh whether courts should allow younger children to testify in family cases", Jazmine Ulloa, Jan. 24, 2017

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