Three siblings, ages 13, 12 and 10, have started a petition to change the current child custody laws in Connecticut to better reflect their needs in the child custody process. The petition advocates for the notion that children age 12 and older should have the ability to meet with a judge in a contentious child custody case to explain their perspective. The potential law is named after the oldest child.
The current law in Connecticut allows for a guardian ad litem, who is a hired or appointed attorney, to represent the interests of the child. There is not direct communication between the child and the judge. During representation the attorney conveys the best interests of the child to the judge. The petition is a community service project of the oldest sibling. She believes that children have little power in the process and need a larger voice in child custody issues.
In response to the petition, a Connecticut family law attorney explained that the current system has been put in place to protect children from their parents’ child custody disagreements. While allowing the court to consider the opinion of a child is viewed as one important factor among many, some family law attorneys believe that child testimony in a custody dispute is not beneficial.
Critics of the proposed change believe the best situation for a child is to have a strong relationship with both their mom and dad. If a child testifies against one of the parents, then there is the possibility the child will alienate the parent. The middle sibling gave her remarks on the petition, “It’s not like we speak a different language. I would go to see a judge myself and tell the judge what I want. I know what’s best for me. I’m sure if a judge talked to me, I would get what I want.”
Source: Newstimes.com, “Siblings Aim to Change Child Custody Law,” Eileen FitzGerald, 10/10/10