In Arizona Custody Cases, Can The Court Interview My Children?
The short answer is yes depending upon the age and development of the child requested to be interviewed. Rule 12, Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure, ("ARFLP"), states:
[o]n motion of any party, or its own motion, the court may, in its discretion, conduct an in camera interview with a minor child who is the subject of a custody or parenting time dispute, to ascertain the child's wishes as to the child's custodian and as to parenting time. The interview may be conducted at any stage of the proceeding and shall be recorded by a court reporter or any electronic medium that is retrievable in perceivable form. The record of the interview may be sealed, in whole or in part, based upon good cause and after considering the best interests of the child. The parties may stipulate that the record of the interview shall not be provided to the parties or that the interview may be conducted off the record.
In addition to the ARFLP provision set forth above:
Arizona Revised Statutes ? 25-405 allows for an in camera interview of a child to ascertain the child's wishes as to the child's custodian and as to parenting time. A record of the proceeding will be kept to ensure the integrity of the process, to allow for rebuttal information in appropriate cases, and to provide for appropriate appellate review. The definition of "record" is derived from A.R.S. ? 25-1010(E).
It must be noted that an interview of child can go a long way in determining the child's wishes, but that is just one factor the court will consider of many when making a determination regarding child custody. For a complete list of factors the court will consider in rendering a child custody decision review A.R.S. ? 25-403.
It is sometimes a risky proposition in a custody battle to insist that a child be interviewed. For this reason it is strongly suggested that you meet with an experienced Arizona family attorney who can better provide you pros and cons prior to motioning the court.