Going to Court, Allegations, Testimony and Witnesses, Appeals
Child custody disputes -- whether they are part of divorce actions or stand alone cases -- can become exhausting and expensive. The actions involve allegations that cut to the core of human relations: that one person is unfit to be parent of a child he or she has produced. Very often, in the heat of the battle, parents who very much love the child in dispute will be sorely tempted to make false or misleading statements about a partner he or she once loved. False statements made under oath in child custody cases are no different than false statements made under oath in any case: they are perjury, and that they are subject to the applicable penalties for perjury.
And even when the court takes no action, judges, who have heard it all before, cannot help but be influenced by testimony that misrepresents the facts of the case. In the eyes of judge, any parent who perjures himself or herself -- or even misrepresents the facts -- may reduce any claim he or she can make about the child and his or best interest.
The very nature of court invites escalation and exacerbates the impulse to go for the throat. Winning means getting the child; second place is losing.
A court case may mean testimony about the contours and relief of the parent and child relationship. While courts take precautions to protect the child from unnecessary exposure, few parents relish the prospect of laying bear intimate details of family life. Witnesses who know both spouses find themselves reluctantly testifying for one parent may find themselves at odds with the desires of the other. Sometimes a guardian ad litem or in some cases even an attorney for the children may enter the action. Very few parents enjoy the prospect of hearing an expert, even one who is very fair and entirely neutral, dissect the quality of their parenting.
In a custody dispute, witnesses include lay people, such as friends and relatives enlisted to testify on one side or another, or professionals, such as child psychologist, who testify as experts about the child’s behavior and rapport with his or her parents.
And when it is over, the parent who does not like the outcome can appeal it of course. But the grounds for a successful appeal must be an error on the part of the court, not merely dissatisfaction with the ruling.
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