Scottsbluff, NE asked in Child Custody and Family Law for Nebraska

Q: Is a 16 year old able to speak on their own behalf at a custody modification hearing in Colorado ?

The last hearing was when the child was 10

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1 Lawyer Answer
Julie Fowler
Julie Fowler
  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Omaha, NE
  • Licensed in Nebraska

A: I can't comment on how Colorado does things but in Nebraska, a child that is of suitable age and experience may be allowed to testify at trial. Generally 16 years old is old enough but it depends on the specific child and specifics of the case. Most cases settle without a trial so generally a child never testifies. If a child is allowed to testify in Nebraska, this is usually done at an in camera hearing. This means that the child testifies in the judge's chambers and not out in open court. There is some variation how this is handled and depends on what judge or county your case is in. Often it is just the attorneys that are allowed back in chambers while the child testifies (not the clients/parents of the child). Sometimes there are other methods to have the child's opinion considered in the case without having the child testify. This can be things like having the child express preferences to the mediator in mediation (such as their preference as to what high school to attend if that is disputed), having a guardian ad litem involved, among other options depending on the specific issue and case.

Keep in mind that a child's preference isn't the final say and is just one factor in a custody case. It is ultimately up to the judge if the parents can't reach an agreement.

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