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Should I bring my new Significant Other or my Children to Family Court with me?

In most cases bringing your new significant other or your children to court with you is a bad idea.

Bringing a Significant Other:

In most cases having a third party in the courthouse (especially a significant other) inflames the other party and makes settlement less likely. While this is not always the case, the risk of making settlement more difficult is usually not worth the benefit of having a third party there.

Also, court is relatively boring. Your significant other will be able to wait with you in the courthouse but he/she will not be able to attend any family service meetings (i.e. required mediation prior to the court hearing). Court involves a lot of waiting around and there is usually something better that people can be doing with their time. For these reasons I usually recommend that clients come alone to court, but in the end it is your call.

Bringing your Children:

Whether or not the hearing involves your children bringing them to court with you is a bad idea for numerous reasons.

1. There is a saying that in criminal court we see bad people acting their best, and in family court we see good people acting their worst. Family court is a stressful place and oftentimes involves very personal and emotional issues. Exposing your children to this is unnecessary and can be damaging psychologically.

2. There is nothing for children to do in the courthouse. These buildings are not designed with children in mind and are not fun places to be. Your children will be able to wait with you in the courthouse but they will not be able to attend any family service meetings (i.e. required mediation prior to the court hearing) and they are typically not allowed in the courtrooms. Court involves a lot of waiting around and children will be very bored.

3. In the event the case does involve your children, it is even more damaging to have them in court. Children pick up on more than most people give them credit for, and knowing that a court hearing is happening (never-mind being there) can be very stressful for children. Children will take responsibility for the outcome even though they have no control over it and blame themselves if their parent is unhappy. Don't place this burden on your child.

4. Finally, there is no added value to having your children in court. In the unlikely event that the Judge wants family service to speak to your children, you will be given the opportunity to come back with them. Having them there at the time of hearing exposes them to unnecessary stress without any potential benefit.

For more information about best practices to protect your children from the detrimental affects of court actions between parents read the following brochure: Planning for Shared Parenting: A Guide for Parents Living Apart.

Comments

  1. Hello, I am the editor at freelegalaid.com. Thank you for sharing these tips about about bringing a third party of children to family court. A court room really is no place for children, and exposing them to that kind of stressful environment should really be avoided if at all possible.

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