When divorcing parents are unable to mutually agree on a child custody agreement that will be in a child’s best interests, they have the option of proceeding to mediation to sort the problem out. While mediation is often an effective and successful course of action for establishing the most appropriate child custody agreement, not all Illinois couples will come out any better than they went in. Litigation before a judge is typically the next step, but there may be some big questions to sort out first.

Although not exactly typical, it is possible for a child to testify in an ongoing child custody dispute. However, this type of decision should usually be given a significant amount of consideration. For instance, parents may want to first consider any long-term impact that a child may experience if asked to testify that he or she wishes to spend more time with one parent instead of the other.

Also, while it may be tempting to have a child testify, first consider whether it’s actually necessary. Maintaining a healthy and ongoing relationship with a parent can be far more important than adding testimony or information of which all parties may already be aware. If the additional testimony really and truly could add something meaningful to the issues, then it may be an appropriate choice to consider. 

There is no exact age limit in Illinois for a child to testify in court during a child custody dispute, although the law does mandate that a child must be able to express him- or herself to the judge. However, this is typically subject to the court’s discretion. While doing so may not always be advisable, when a child’s best interest is on the line, his or her personal testimony could potentially be of help.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Confidential: Child Testimony in Divorce Proceedings“, Caroline Choi, Jan. 29, 2015