The Court has ordered a Family Report

The Court has ordered a Family Report

The court has ordered a Family Report

What does this mean and what do I have to do?

If your matter is in Court for parenting matters and it appears the matter will be progressing to a final hearing, it is very likely that the Court will order a Family Report. A Family Report is an independent family assessment that assists families and the Court in making decisions about your children. It is prepared by a family consultant who considers the children’s experiences, development, family circumstances and other issues relevant to the case. The Family Report is one source of evidence that the Court considers when making a decision.

What is the process for a Family Report?

The family consultant will have interviews with you, the other parent, your children and any other significant family members such as grandparents or step-siblings. You must attend the interview. These interviews will be conducted separately but the consultant may also interview each parent with the children. The family consultant may ask you and gather information about the following:

  • your relationship with the children;
  • what you think would be the best for the children;
  • the children’s views and wishes;
  • any parenting disputes;
  • past and present parenting arrangements;
  • the parenting capacity of each party; and
  • any risks to the children.

Any information you provide to the family consultant is not confidential. Anything you say is admissible.

You must not coach your children what to say. You should explain to them that they are going to meet someone who would like to talk to them. Explain to the children that this is a person to whom they can express their views, opinions and feelings. You should also tell them that if there is anything they do not wish to discuss then that is fine. Children should feel comfortable.

What happens after the interviews?

Once the family consultant has conducted the interviews and the Family Report is completed, the family consultant provides it to the Judge or Registrar who ordered the report. The report will then formally be released to the parties, or if they are legally represented to the solicitor. You cannot show the report to other family members or professionals without the Court’s permission.

What if I don’t agree with the Family Report?

The Family Report is only one source of evidence. Although the family consultant makes recommendations for arrangements that best meet the children’s future care, welfare and developmental needs, the Court is not bound by these recommendations. If you do not agree with the contents of the report and wish to challenge it, the appropriate way to do this is through cross-examination at a hearing.

If you have an upcoming Family Report interview and would like to discuss this with one of the Solari and Stock’s Team, please contact us on 02 8525 2700 or click here to request an appointment with one of our experienced Family Law Solicitors.

Article by Shweta Kumar
Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash