What are Family Reports? In some parenting matters the Court can order the parties to attend a qualified family consultant for the preparation of a report to be provided to the Court. Family consultants are qualified social workers or psychologists who work extensively with children and families.
Parties in a parenting dispute can also engage a family consultant prior to going to Court.
The purpose and benefit of a family report is to provide an independent assessment of the issues that can help guide the parties and the Judge to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child(ren).
The process involved requires the parents and child(ren) to attend interviews with the report writer and answer questions about the issues in dispute. Others, such as grandparents, half-siblings and step-parents can also be involved in the interview process. This process enables the views of the children to be taken into consideration by both the parents and the Courts. The family consultant also observes interactions between the child(ren) and parents.
If the Court has ordered a family report, you and the child(ren) must attend the appointments. There is no obligation to undertake a family report prior to Court proceedings, however one may assist to clarify the issues and the children’s wishes. A report before Court proceedings often avoids the costs, delays an uncertainty of a Court decision.
In some circumstances the costs of a family report can be covered by the Court or an Independent Children’s Lawyer. However, the parties can also be made to equally contribute towards the report.
The Court may also permit the Family Consultant to have access to all material, including subpoenaed material. Then based on the information obtained from the interviews, observations and material the family consultant provides a report containing recommendations with respect to the care arrangements.
Family Reports may not always be necessary, if you are unsure if you should request one in your parenting matter, please contact the DBL Family Law Team for advice.