Should a child be present in the courtroom when adults are making a decision about their life?

Lawyers have been debating this issue for years.  Should the children be present?

The argument for children to be absent in the courtroom is many lawyers feel children do not have a place in the courtroom and should not be present to hear their parents fight over them.

On the other hand, lawyers believe it’s important for children who are age-appropriate to be involved in decisions that will determine the next several years of their lives.

The Federal government has given guidance on this issue in dependency and neglect cases.

  • In 2006, Federal legislators passed the Child and Family Services Improvement Act. An important part of this law requires courts in dependency and neglect proceedings to consult with the child, who is the subject of the case, in all hearings where the child’s permanent plan is discussed.
  • In 2012, Colorado implemented procedures to ensure that the Federal act is being followed here. This is an important step for Colorado in getting children in the system more involved in the process.

Even though the Federal law only applies to dependency and neglect cases, the same principles can apply to divorce. In divorce, the focus is often directed to what the parents want and need.

Children feel deeply the results of any parenting plan created during divorce until they leave their parents’ homes.  If they are young, the whole process can be sad and confusing.  Consulting your children about what they want, need, and are feeling before making a parenting plan is best for the smoothest transition possible.  Talking to your family before decisions are made is important.

There will always be debate over whether children should be present in the courtroom and at no time should they be used as leverage.  It’s a discussion topic for parents, and the age of the child should be considered.

If you, as a parent, are not sure about how to involve your children, talk to your attorney or a professional to seek some direction. Ultimately, it is up to the parent to make the decision but proceed with caution and take the steps to learn how you can minimize the damage.

If you need an attorney to talk to about this please contact Timlin & Rye Law at 303-837-9284 or email us.