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19 October 2018

What is a Family Report?

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A Family Report is a report written by an independent expert to assist the Court in determining what parenting arrangements would best meet the interests of the child or children who are the subject of a parenting dispute. Report writers are usually experienced social workers or psychologists who are either in private practice or employed directly by the Court.

When is a Family Report necessary?

Generally, when parties have a dispute about the parenting arrangements for their children, they each have very different views about what would be in the best interests of their children. The difficulty for the Court is that it is faced with two conflicting sets of facts and no independent evidence. The Family Report assists the Court by providing independent evidence about the family dynamics, each party’s position about the dispute, their proposals for future parenting arrangements and, where appropriate, the wishes of the children.

What happens in a Family Report?

Once a report writer has been appointed they will make arrangements to conduct interviews with the parents, the children and any other relevant parties. You should discuss with your lawyer whether new partners, grandparents or any other parties should be involved in the interview process. The report writer will be provided with copies of all documents filed in the matter and access to the subpoena material where necessary.

During the report interviews the report writer will ask a number of questions to obtain information about each party’s family history, any risk issues such as substance abuse or violence, the children’s views (where appropriate), a history of the relationship and the parenting arrangements to date and each parties proposal for future parenting arrangements. Occasionally follow up interviews are conducted and the Family Report then issues.

Once the Family Report Issues

Once the Family Report issues it is used by the Court as evidence to be considered, together with all of the other evidence before the Court, when making a determination about your parenting dispute. While the Family Report is not determinative of the issues in dispute it tends to carry a lot of weight with the Court because of the report writer’s expertise and impartiality.

Given the importance of the Family Report it is essential that parties involved in the Family Report are able to articulate their concerns and their proposals for future parenting arrangements. If you would like further information about Family Reports or would like to discuss your parenting matter generally please contact one of our solicitors.

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