Generally, Courts appoint a family consultant to write a family consultant report. This report is beneficial for family court proceedings that deal with disputes or parenting arrangements. Typically, a family consultant report can help parties reach an agreement. Family consultants are usually the following:
- Social Workers
Parties wanting to receive a family consultant report must wait for the Court to formally release it. It is also highly exclusive to the parties, the court, and the concerned lawyers.
However, the court can give other family members permission to view it. This is if the family members took part in the interview for the family consultant report.
The 2 Types Of A Family Consultant Report
1. Summary Report (Section 11F Report)
A Section 11F Report is a report created in accordance with Section 11F of the Family Law Act 1975. Courts may instruct parties under parenting proceedings to attend numerous appointments with a family consultant. Then, the courts will also require a child to attend such appointments.
Following the appointments, the family consultant provides a summary of the report along with a snapshot of the parties’ issues. These reports just present a summary of parenting disputes and arrangements. Moreover, judges would preferably have this type of report if the issues that require a resolution are unclear.
2. Specific Report
Courts will require this type of report if there are relevant matters that can impact proceedings. Furthermore, the court may halt proceedings until this report is provided. The court may also require the parties and children to attend the appointments for this report.
The family consultant must consider the child’s opinion and view on the matter and include it in the report. However, it would be inappropriate to do so if the child is too young to understand the interview questions. This report must include any matters related to the child’s welfare and development.
What Happens In The Interview Process?
Family disputes and parenting arrangements will definitely involve a lot of individuals. Thus, family members, other than parents and children, may be involved in interviews to generate a family consultant report. A family consultant may conduct a series of interviews that can last up to a few days.
Furthermore, a family consultant may also interview adult siblings, step or half-siblings, partners, and even grandparents. In special circumstances, family consultants will have a private interview with the children. Also, the family consultant may also permit a parent and observe their interaction throughout the interview process.
A family consultant may seek permission from the parents to contact relevant people that have details about their children. Some of these people may be teachers, doctors, or other professionals. The Court may also permit a family consultant to use subpoenaed materials. Here is general information that a family consultant will gather:
- Issues in the family dispute
- Past and preset parenting arrangements
- The parenting capacity of each parent/party
- The children’s relationships with significant people
- The children’s wishes and views
- If there are risks to the children
Any information disclosed, and discussions held during these interviews are NOT confidential. This is because the court will need all information gathered in these interviews. Therefore, it’s important to seek legal advice on how and what information to disclose to family consultants.
Preparing For Family Report Interviews
It’s easier said than done, but a person involved in a family report interview should stay calm and collected. Truly, there are legal matters, penalties, and consequences on the line. Even so, family consultants and courts will aid in making the best decisions for a case. Parties are advised to review and read through relevant affidavit materials that are involved in proceedings.
Essentially, parties should write down evidence and information before going to family report interviews. Parties shouldn’t just rely on their memory as this may disrupt the coherence and credibility of their statements. However, it’s still best if it’s just used as a guide and not as a script. A child’s welfare is also on the line in family report interviews and parents should consider:
- What’s the best arrangement for the children; and
- Justify why these arrangements are the best for the children.
Parents should express their true intentions and back them up with evidence. Family consultants may fail to believe parties that deliver their statements haphazardly. After all, courts will still consider arrangements that are in the child’s best interests.
There may also be instances where a party is charged with an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO). AVOs are generally used to prevent a violent person from meeting or contacting a person. A parent may worry if a violent parent is in the same room with their child. Hence, it’s important to inform the family consultant of this instance beforehand.
An important tip for parties entering into family report interviews is to seek a solicitor’s advice. Solicitors know the ins and outs of family law and what is best for children in parenting arrangements. Therefore, they can give you advice on how to present your statements while avoiding legal implications.
Receiving The Family Consultant Report
The family consultant will usually inform parties within 7 to 21 days of the family consultant report’s results. On the other hand, the court will receive the report if they paid for its preparation. Then, the courts will release this report to their lawyers. Family consultant reports are highly confidential and penalties may apply to parties disclosing any information to the public.
There may also be times when parties may disagree with a family consultant report. Are there details that were not included? Were there false allegations and statements? These instances may result in further court proceedings and will require the assistance of JB Solicitors.
How Our Family Lawyers Can Help
Family disputes and parenting arrangements can be lengthy and will require a lot on a party’s end. On top of the costs and stress, parties will need to provide rational and credible statements that adhere to the child’s best interests. We believe in approaching parenting arrangements and family consultations with caution to prevent further disputes.
Our experienced family lawyers can give advice that aid parents in reaching proper arrangements for their children. Should conflicts arise, we offer mediation services for disputed couples and help them reach a cordial agreement.
Contact a family lawyer from JB Solicitors today.