What is a family report and how do I get one?
Determining what a child’s wishes are with regard to which parent they wish to live with after separation is one of the most common and challenging questions in Family Law. The best way to consider the issue is to have the child speak to someone independent, this is usually done by way of a family report. >
A family report is a written report by a social worker or psychologist which can assist the judge hearing a parenting case in making decisions about the parenting arrangements for the children. The report can also assist the parties to reach an agreement based on the report’s recommendation.
A report will contain the writer’s professional assessment of the family. It will also include their recommendations for the arrangement that they believe will best meet the future welfare of the children. Interviews are generally conducted individually, however the report writer may request that a parent be interviewed with the children, depending on what the report writer feels is appropriate. Separate interviews will be conducted by the report writer for both parents, and in some cases, the report writer may request the parents be interviewed together in a joint session.
The report writer may also observe the way each parent and the children interact in separate observation sessions.
The important thing to note in relation to the report is that what the parents and children say to the report writer is not confidential. All information gathered by the report writer is admissible in court. The report writer will include all relevant information in the report and may also be required to give oral evidence in court.
The court is not bound by the recommendation in the report. As with any evidence, the appropriate forum for challenging the report is at the court hearing, by cross-examination of the report writer. This is where the report writer may be asked questions about the contents of the report and their assessment of the family.
If you need advice on parenting orders or any other aspect of family law, please contact Michael Lynch Family Lawyers on: (07) 3221 4300 or email: [email protected]