Telephonic Witnesses in a Court Hearing

When Mother filed for divorce from Father, the parties’ daughter was living with Mother, and the parties’ son was living with Father. Both parties sought custody of their son.

During trial, Mother’s witness was her son’s guidance counselor, who testified by telephone without objection. The trial court divided the martial property, assigned alimony, and designated Mother as primary residential parent for both children. Father appealed.

The court of appeals reversed, finding that the trial court erred when it relied on the testimony of the counselor.

The Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s custody decision, holding (1) appellate courts should review a trial court’s decision regarding the credibility of a witness who testifies by telephone using the same deferential standard as a live witness; (2) the court of appeals erred by independently weighing the guidance counselor’s testimony by telephone; and (3) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in assigning Mother as the son’s primary residential parent.

Contact a Santa Ana Child Custody Lawyer today for help in any child custody or child visitation issue today..