It is Hard to Get Teachers to Court as Witnesses


By Jedidiah McKeehan

Occasionally when I meet with individuals who are dealing with a custody aspect of a case, one of the things that comes up is things related to school, such as the child’s attendance, the child’s appearance at school, and the child’s ability to stay awake while at school.

A party may tell me that they wish to call one of the children’s teacher’s as a witness at a future custody hearing. In my experience, that can be very hard to do. Almost all individuals I have encountered are reluctant to appear at court and testify. However, there is a Tennessee law in place that makes it even harder to get teachers to appear at court to testify.

Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-2-109(b) states, “Notwithstanding any other law, a court shall require an educator to be a witness in any civil hearing, deposition, mediation, arbitration, trial or other similar proceeding involving a domestic dispute matter, including, but not limited to, domestic abuse, divorce, parentage, or child custody, if the educator is not a named party and the educator’s attendance would require the educator to be absent from teaching, counseling, or supervisory duties in a school, unless the court determines that the educator’s attendance is necessary to ensure fairness in the hearing, mediation, arbitration, trial or other similar matter.”

So if you are thinking you will be able to win your custody case based on the testimony of teachers, you probably want to triple check and confirm that the teacher in question can and will come testify, because Tennessee law provides them a pretty easy path to avoid doing so if they so desire.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. Visit for more information.