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Court rules on parents’ right to question children in court

An Arizona appellate court recently made a ruling that could potentially affect how child custody hearings are carried out in the state. The court’s unanimous decision is that parents and legal counsel do not necessarily have the right to question a child during a child custody proceeding.

The court agreed that parents have every right to court hearings that decide whether fundamental parental rights should be severed in order to protect the children in question, but that the Department of Child Safety is charged with protecting the best interests of those children. Therefore, the court ruled, the DCS has the right in these types of hearings to request that children involved not be cross-examined by either their parents or their parents’ legal counsel since it could subject them to unnecessary trauma.

In its findings, the court revealed that the case in question involved the rights of two children, ages 8 and 4, who were taken into DCS custody in 2011 after the 4-year-old was hospitalized with injuries. Both children were made dependents of the state after a hearing during which the father was not allowed to call the older child to the stand for questioning. As a result, only statements the children made to caseworkers were allowed as evidence and the case was later appealed.

There are no winners in cases of child custody, which can become painful for all family members involved. Anyone embroiled in a court battle for custody of one or more children can face legal obstacles that can be overwhelming and difficult to understand. A family law attorney can help lead a parent or potential legal guardian of a child through the process and lend a helping hand until the case reaches its final resolution.

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