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Where Does a Judge Interview a Child?

In those circumstances in which a child’s comments will be at least heard, parents often want to know, “Where does a judge interview a child?”  Followed by, “Can I be in the room?”

This doesn’t happen in every circumstance.  However, when it does, the child will be interviewed alone.  It’s usually done to avoid any undue influence the parent(s) in the room may have on the child’s actual comments.  They may be afraid to give an honest answer because it might be hurtful to the parent.

Typically, the interview will take place in the judge’s chambers (her/his actual office).  Both lawyers are generally present.  The judge will usually begin by asking relatively simple questions to allow the child to feel more comfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings.

As a family law attorney, I’m in favor of giving the child the opportunity to state opinions about the situation, preferences and/or concerns.  I’d like to have more conversations involving the question, “Where does a judge interview a child?”

We often forget that when a divorce happens, it’s not just the parents who are going through it.  The children are absolutely impacted.

Even though Kentucky doesn’t give the child the right to make the custody determination, if the child is mature enough and able to articulate sound reasons or opinions, I believe she/he should be heard.  Now, the question of maturity can be subjective, but it’s obvious to the judge when the child is articulate enough to state an opinion.  The important part of this is allowing the child to speak honestly.  As emotional as divorces are, a parent can exert influence on the child even without actually trying.

It’s also quite possible that the child may be able to emotionally recover from the shock of a divorce, if she/he knows the was an opportunity to speak openly with the judge.  Nevertheless, counselors and therapists should be considered as safe resources to help the child cope with the sudden changes.