What is a Family Report?
This is the second article in our four-part What Is? Series. We have collected the most often asked questions and put them into a quick, clean, short answer format.
Sometimes the Courts will make decisions and directions about your children, depending on what the Court thinks is best for them – not based on what you think.
In children’s matters before the Family Law Courts (Courts) a Family Report (Report) is an independent assessment of the issues relevant to your family.
In preparing a Report the Report Writer (Writer) will consider yours and your children’s circumstances, explore the issues relevant to the dispute between you and your spouse and recommend arrangements they think best meet the child/ren’s future care needs.
Who prepares a Report?
Reports are prepared by a Writer or Family Consultant. Writers are qualified Social Workers and/or Psychologists with specific skill and expertise working with children and families.
Who makes the call to issue a Report?
A Report can be requested by you, your spouse or the both of you together. A Court may also make the choice to order a Report. In practice, most matters relating to the long-term welfare and development of child/ren will require the preparation of a Report.
What is the purpose of a Family Report?
When a Report is Court ordered, the purpose is to assist the Court to consider what’s in the best interest of the child/ren. In deciding what Orders to make, the Court must consider the best interests of the children as the paramount consideration.
Generally, the Writer will gather information about:
- the issues in dispute
- past and present parenting arrangements
- the parenting capacity of each party
- your child/ren’s relationships with significant people
- your child/ren’s wishes and views, and
- any risks to the child/ren.
A Report can be obtained prior to proceedings being commenced. Both parties agreeing to obtain a Report can be a strategy to avoid unnecessary and costly litigation.
The recommendations of the Report are based on the Writer’s personal assessment of you, and/or your spouse. The Writer may also speak to your children in order to complete the Report. The recommendations of the Writer will hold weight on the Orders the Court will make.
Process of a Family Report
Generally speaking, interviews will be conducted across one day. Each of the parties and the child/ren will be interviewed separately. The Writer will also observe you and your spouse together with the child/ren. The Report process may also involve significant people in the child/ren’s lives including a party’s new partner or grandparents.
The Writer can be required to appear in Court, in person, so you will have an opportunity to clarify matters covered in the Report, if you don’t agree with them.
This publication has been carefully prepared, but it has been written in general terms and should be viewed as broad guidance only. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to render advice. No one should rely on the information contained in this publication without first obtaining professional advice relevant to their own specific situation.