Where there parenting matters that are in dispute and there are proceedings before the Court, a Court can issue an Order obligating the parties and the children to attend an appointment held by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker for the purpose of obtaining a family report.
The reason a family report is prepared is to provide an independent assessment of the issues in the matter, and also to help the Judge to make decisions about arrangements for the children. Also, in some circumstances it may assist the parties to reach an agreement without the need for further, protracted litigation.
Before preparing the family report, the report writer will be provided with all related court documents including Affidavits and Court Orders made to date. After this, a meeting will be held with the parents and the children, and in some cases additional family members, such as step-parents, will be included if they are considered to play an important role in the child’s life.
A family report will generally set out the background of the relationship of the parties, the circumstances prior to and following separation, the report writer’s observations of the parties and children during their interviews and a number of recommendations regarding parenting arrangements that the family report writer considers to be in the best interests of the children.
Once this report is finalised, it is admitted into evidence for consideration by the Judge.
This document becomes another form of evidence that will be considered in addition to other material filed by the parties.
While Judges are not obliged to follow the report, they will often place significant weight on the recommendations of the report due to its impartial position in the proceedings.
If you are involved with court proceedings regarding a family report, or need any advice on parenting matters, please contact us on (02) 4322 0251 for an obligation free chat with one of our Family Lawyers.