[quote]" I said that a judge will listen to a 7-year-old if it's important enough, as in a case of domestic violence"
Nope. If there is evidence of DV, the child would NOT be involved, the police would testify. If it was child abuse, the CPS/DYFS rep would testify. You are amongst educated people with family court experience. It's time to say you were wrong and back out of the exchange. [/quote]
From dadsdivorce dot com -- and this is as far as I'll go in this discussion.
"There is a common misconception that children have to be a certain age to testify. At one time, this was true. Research suggested that children were vulnerable to making serious errors in their testimony. Therefore, there was little to no guarantee of trustworthiness, the touchstone for evidence admissibility. Children under a certain age, usually 7 or 14 years old, could not testify.
In the majority of states, however, this is no longer true. Additional research and increasing reports of child abuse and neglect, among other things, prompted reform. Most states have dropped their child testimony bans in favor of rules that allow children to testify while allowing the fact-finder to afford the testimony as much (or as little) weight as deemed appropriate considering the child’s age, testimony and demeanor. Even in the minority of states that do require children to be a certain age to testify, the requirement is usually a presumption, not a bright-line rule banning testimony.
Evidentiary rules now presume witnesses are competent. A competent witness meets the minimum requirements to testify. In general, unless the judge finds after questioning the person that the person does not have sufficient physical or mental capacity or sense of obligation to testify truthfully and understandably, every person is competent to be a witness.
In most states, special evidentiary rules apply to children witnesses. The judge may determine whether the child is competent in a pretrial motion, in chambers and off the record, or in front of the jury in open court. See, e.g., People v Houghtelling, 183 Mich App 805; 455 NW2d 440 (1990). The court may converse with the child in a dialogue that appears friendly and light-hearted to gauge whether the child knows the difference between right and wrong, knows the consequences of telling a lie, knows not to tell a lie, and can recall the events in dispute. For example, the judge may ask the child to describe her 5th birthday party to determine whether she remembers events from two years ago, around the time of the events in dispute. The judge must conclude that the child has the capacity to observe, remember and communicate what she observed and the capacity and sense of obligation to testify truthfully and understandably about what she observed. Using this method, even witnesses as young as 4 years old have testified. See, e.g., People v Kasben, 158 Mich App 252; 404 NW2d 723 (1987)."