INTERVIEW OF A CHILD IN CHAMBERS.
Did you know that in a custody battle, a party can request that the judge interview the child?
In a non-jury trial or at a hearing, the amicus attorney (attorney of the court or custody evaluator) can ask the court to interview a child. The child’s attorney also known as an attorney ad litem may also apply for an interview on behalf of the child. In addition, the court, on its own motion may interview the child. The purpose is to find out which parent or party (if grandparents are involved) should have primary or exclusive custody of the child.
An interview is simply the judge asking the child questions. Therefore, the child who is the subject of the suit must not be coached on what to say.
There are certain rules regarding interview of a child in chambers.
Ordinarily, the court will interview a child who is over 12 years of age. However, when the child is under 12 years old, the court can exercise discretion. (The court is typically the judge). In order words, a judge can choose whether or not to interview.
The interview does not reduce or remove the court’s authority to determine the best interest of the child. That is always the goal – best interest, not the guardians’ convenience.
If the case is set for jury trial, then the court may not interview the child in chambers. This is because the parties are entitled to a jury verdict (Texas Family Code section 153.009)
Lastly, the court may permit the attorney for a party, the amicus attorney, the guardian ad litem for the child, or the attorney ad litem for the child to be present at the interview.
If requested, the court can allow a record of the interview to be made when the child is 12 years of age or older. This record is made by a court reporter. The record of the interview must be part of the record in the case.
If you are involved in a custody case or you need to modify custody, call one of our staff for assistance. (832) 529-1255. When you fill out a contact form, simply provide your basic information. Each case is different. It may be simple or complex. Either way, we are here to help.