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New Rules on Children Testifying in Custody cases in California

 Cal. Rules of Court, rule 5.250, 1/1/2012

RULE PROVIDES: "(a) This rule is intended to implement [Fam. Code §3042]. Children's participation in family law matters must be considered on a case-by-case basis. No statutory mandate, rule, or practice requires children to participate in court or prohibits them from doing so. When a child wishes to participate, the court should find a balance between protecting the child, the statutory duty to consider the wishes of and input from the child, and the probative value of the child's input while ensuring all parties' due process rights to challenge evidence relied upon by the court in making custody decisions.

(b) (1) The following persons must inform the court if they have information indicating that a child in a custody or visitation (parenting time) matter wishes to address the court: (A) A minor's counsel; (B) An evaluator; (C) An investigator; and (D) A child custody recommending counselor who provides recommendations to the judge under Family Code section 3183.

(2) The following persons may inform the court if they have information indicating that a child wishes to address the court: (A) A party; and (B) A party's attorney.

(3) In the absence of information indicating a child wishes to address the court, the judicial officer may inquire whether the child wishes to do so.

(c) [Guidelines to determine whether addressing the court is in the child's best interest]

(d) [Guidelines for receiving testimony and other information]

(e) [Responsibilities of court-connected or appointed professionals]

(f) [Methods of providing information to parents and supporting children]

(g) [Education and training]

NOTES: Advisory Committee Comment: Rule 5.250 does not apply to probate guardianships except as and to the extent that the rule is incorporated or expressly made applicable by a rule of court in title 7 of the California Rules of Court.

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