Last updated on November 2, 2021

Police Questioning Minors & Custody Implications

Interviewer: Could a police officer question a child without the consent of the parent? Paul Tafelski: Typically, when the police are doing those interviews, you’re going to see the complaining witness, meaning, let’s say, the mother (that’s just more common) making a statement and then giving permission for the child to make a statement. You don’t usually see people who call the police being reluctant to give the police statements at that time because they’re in the heat of the moment and they usually do cooperate. Usually, when it comes to interviewing juveniles and questioning juveniles, the police need to either get the permission or have the parent be present. In most of these cases, when there is a child witness, the complaining witness will usually allow it. Interviewer: If the case did not involve a child, will parenting rights still be taken away? Paul Tafelski: No. The parenting rights usually won’t be affected if the case did not involve a child. However, they’re indirectly affected while the case is pending because they won’t let the defendant come to the marital home and that’s where the children live. Then they have to make other arrangements to see the kids and it’s pretty difficult to see them on a daily basis like they normally would. Indirectly, those rights are affected. The other thing is sometimes these cases do lead to the filing of a divorce case, in which case these cases can have a big effect on parenting time because they will usually be used by the person who’s filing for divorce as leverage in their custody battle. It’s just one more reason why this has to be handled in a delicate matter because you never know for sure if this could be the last step in a marital relationship. Interviewer: If someone is charged with domestic violence, could they still get custody of a child? Paul Tafelski: Yeah. That’s going to be handled in a separate court by a separate judge. The judge who usually handles the domestic violence case is not going to be the judge who handles your divorce and custody case. They can look at whether or not you’re a violent person when deciding whether or not to give custody to you or determining how much parenting time to give you. It all kind of ties together even though it’s going to be two separate issues and decided by two separate judges.

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