Don’t bring your children to court!
First-time custody litigants sometimes think the judge should hear what their children have to say about the living arrangements. So they dress up their kids and shuttle them to the courthouse — ready to testify about which parent is most fit for the job, and which home they want to live in.
Children should not be brought to court, either to participate in the custody proceeding or to witness it. The prevailing wisdom is that kids should stay out of the courthouse. Going to court to watch their parents fight over custody can be nerve-wracking for children, not to mention confusing, threatening and downright scary. Kids don’t need to see one parent bad-mouthing the other; they don’t need to be reminded that they’re in the middle of a fight between their mother and father.
Of course, there will occasionally be an exception to the rule. The children will be invited to court on the particular day in which the judge wishes to interview them. They may also be requested to attend on a day in which the court sponsors an educational program for parents and/or children, or when a social service agency wishes to interview the children. When these isolated events occur, they almost always occur in a judge’s chambers or behind closed doors. Therefore, children should not be sitting in the courtroom or in the hallway outside the courtroom, watching the case unfold or waiting to participate as witnesses.
In fact, a parent who continuously brings children to the court may be traumatizing them, and the other parent would be well-advised to bring this practice to the attention of the judge.