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Dave Kennett
Dave Kennett, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 27689
Experience:  25 years experience as practicing attorney
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I have been divorced nearly three years. My 14 year old daughter

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I have been divorced nearly three years. My 14 year old daughter lived with me almost 95 percent of the time until March 27 and then became angry at the rules/boundaries in my home and went to live with her father who will not provide discipline or rules. We agreed that she could stay a few days and cool off then she would return. Unfortunately, within a few days of her leaving she became hostile towards me and I have had no time share with her since that time. I consulted with attorney and a parent coordinator and psychologist was agreed upon and I have been meeting with both, however, my ex-husband has not and is allowing our daughter to decide if she wants a relationship with me and if she wants to go to counseling. She needs this help very much. We filed a motion for contempt and enforcement and in response, his attorney filed a motion for our daughter to testify at a hearing. My question is: Should my attorney file a motion in response attempting to prevent this. I am seriously concerned about how destructive this could be for her.
Dear JACUSTOMER - I am really sorry to hear of your situation and I know how difficult teenagers can be under any circumstances. The courts will generally permit children 14 and over to express their wishes as to custody before the court. What you can do is have your attorney request that any testimony be held "in camera" which means in private with the judge and not testimony in an open courtroom. that allows the child the freedom to express herself without having to worry about offending or pleasing one parent or the other. If you have a court order for custody you have the right to enforce that order regardless of whether your child wants to be at her father's. It is not her choice but rather one of obeying a court order for which the father is responsible. Of course, if the court changes custody to the father then you will have visitation and you will be able to enforce that regardless of what your daughter wants. Children do not control the court and the parents are responsible for seeing to it that the court orders are followed. You probably can't stop the court from allowing her to be heard but there is a good chance that you can convince the judge to order that any testimony be on an "in camera" basis.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I do see this as an option, however, would it also be possible to have her meet with a psychologist and then have the doctor testify as to her best interest? My concern is that she needs counseling and an evaluation to make certain this is truly what she wants and has not been unduly influenced.
I always recommend using a child psychologist and your attorney can ask the court to order counseling as well. Ideally both your daughter and the psychologist can be heard by the court. The court bases its decision on the best interests of your child and the more independent information the better.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you. I have already been working with the parent coordinator and psychologist, just cannot get my ex-husband to go or take our daughter so we will definitely need to have it court ordered. I have always been a good parent and ironically am a social worker (and family and dependency mediator)and never thought I would be in this situation. Our daughter needs us both and I hope that she does not have to choose. Thank you for your time, it is always good to have another perspective.
I know it's tough dealing with this and I know you are trying to do the best for your daughter. It's always a problem when the other parent tries to woo the affection of a child by being permissive rather than being responsible. Obviously the child will take the easy way at this age so your job isn't going to get any simpler. So you need to hang in there and try to make the court see what is happening and stand up for your rights. In the long run your child will thank you but not for a few years! Thanks for using our service - Dave
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