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My Child is Being Deposed!?

No one expects to be in a lawsuit, even though it seems very common. What if your child receives a deposition notice? Does your child have to show up even if it gives him anxiety? As the parent, do you have the right to say no to protect your child from emotional trauma? Can you be in the room to hold your child's hand? Beads of sweat, shortness of breath... does your child have to do this alone?

Fortunately, there are certain protections given to minor children in lawsuits. It is true that California Evidence Code Section 700 states that no person regardless of their age is exempt from being a qualified witness and giving testimony in any matter. However, children who are not yet old enough to "express him or herself" either through words or through someone who can interpret what the child is saying are exempt, as stated in California Evidence Code Section 701. Furthermore, parents usually act as "guardian ad litem" for their minor children, so this further protects the child from doing anything not in his or her own interest. California Civil Procedure Code 372 explains how a guardian ad litem can appear for their minor child in court proceedings. In 18 U.S. Code § 3509 H (2), it states that a guardian ad litem can also attend all depositions, hearings, and child proceedings. You can definitely sit in on your child's deposition, especially if you have been appointed as guardian ad litem. Even if you haven't been appointed, an argument can be made to allow the parent to be present to make the child feel less "frightened" and "concerned." In fact, if the other attorney is overly aggressive, argumentative, hostile, or harassing the child in any unreasonable manner, the deposition can be interrupted and stopped, and you can walk out of the deposition with your child. If your child is being deposed, don't be alarmed and make sure you get an experienced attorney that can make your child feel comfortable throughout the entire process. It really isn't as bad as it seems!

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