In any child custody proceeding, the outcome of the case will be based on any evidence presented to the court and witness testimony. Judges in child custody cases make decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child. Understanding the important role of witnesses in a child custody proceeding can help you be prepared for court.
Who Should Be Witnesses?
Any person with relevant personal knowledge who could assist the court in making its determination may be called to testify. If you believe that you know of a witness who could assist with your case, make sure that you provide your attorney with any information you have about how to contact the witness well before trial so that the witness can be interviewed and subpoenaed to testify.
You and the Other Parent
You will almost certainly be expected to testify in any child custody proceeding if you are a parent. You are the person with the most knowledge about your relationship with your child. You may be asked about the history of your relationship with the other parent, how you spend time with your child, your financial situation, your ability to provide care for the child, and any other information relevant to your case.
After your attorney has had the opportunity to present your testimony, you will be cross-examined by the other parent's attorney. During cross-examination, the attorney may ask you difficult questions, especially if any allegations of domestic abuse or substance abuse were made by the other parent. Your attorney can help prepare you for any difficult questions prior to trial.
Teachers, Coaches, and Day Care Providers
Teachers, coaches and day care providers can help provide valuable testimony about their observations of a parent with their child and how the child is doing in school or day care. If one parent interacts with these witnesses more than the other, these witnesses can offer testimony that the parent is the primary caregiver or is more involved in school activities.
Relatives and Friends
Relatives and friends may have had an opportunity to observe how both parents interact with their children. However, keep in mind that a personal friend or relative who is on your side may be viewed as a biased witness and unlikely to testify against you. Witnesses who can provide information about their observations of you as a parent can add valuable information to your case, but these witnesses should avoid focusing their testimony too much on any negative views about the other parent.
An expert witness must be qualified as an expert by having sufficient knowledge or proficiency in their field. Examples of expert witnesses include doctors and psychologists who may have had the opportunity to evaluate and treat your child. These witnesses can provide important testimony about your child's physical and mental health, whether or not your child is receiving adequate medical care, and any special needs of the child.
Judges typically do not want to hear from children in a custody case because of the pressure and stress that testifying in a contested custody case can cause. However, if a child is old enough to express their own wishes and their testimony is necessary, sometimes children will be called to testify. Child witnesses usually testify in the judge's chambers along with the attorneys, parents, and court reporter present.
Contact an Experienced Missouri Family Law Attorney
In any child custody case, it is essential to be prepared. Joshua Wilson is an experienced family law attorney who can help you develop the best strategy based on the facts of your case. Contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm by calling (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.