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Shielding Children from Testifying in Family Law Court

By: Beth T. Vogelsang, Esquire

Florida’s Family Law Rules Committee has submitted proposed amendments to Rule 12.407, which rule governs the testimony and attendance of minor children in family law proceedings. The proposed amendments can be found here.

The amended rule would prohibit minor children who are witnesses or related to a family law case from having their depositions taken, being brought to a deposition, being subpoenaed to appear at a family court hearing or trial, or from attending a family court proceeding, unless a prior court order is obtained authorizing the child’s appearance. The only exceptions would be uncontested adoption proceedings or dependency or delinquency proceedings.

The purpose of the amendments is to protect children from harm by unnecessarily involving them in family law proceedings. The rule would prevent children from being dragged into court and forced to choose which parent they want to live with. Under the revised rule judges can decide on a case-by-case basis, before the child is ever brought to court, whether a minor child should be allowed to testify.

If you should have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at beth.vogelsang@henlaw.com.

Photo Credit:  Brad Shorr, The Straight North Blog