CAN A MINOR BE REQUIRED TO APPEAR IN COURT IN A TEXAS DIVORCE OR CUSTODY CASE?

Yes, anyone can be compelled to appear before a Court; giving testimony is another issue. A child can be called to testify or appear in family court in custody, divorce, or other cases.

If a person, minor or not, can understand the oath and answer questions, then he or she may be put on the stand. That does not mean a 7-year-old should be a witness, subject to examination and cross examination, and most Courts will look down upon the side that attempts to do such a thing.

If there is no other way to get the information that a child knows before the Court, then there are alternatives to putting him or her on the stand. For instance, a Motion may be filed requesting that the Judge speak to the child in chambers. If custody is at issue and the child is 12-years-old or older, then the Court is required to do so. If the child is under the age of 12, speaking to a child in chambers is discretionary.

Some Judges will also opt for having a child speak to a counselor or social worker, which will almost certainly allow for more comfortable surroundings.

In the end, an attorney determined to do so may put a child on the stand if that child can understand the oath. It may not be the best strategic move and it could cause the child some significant emotional distress, but our rules allow it.