Family report writers jot down any necessary evidence that the court needs in separation and divorce cases. These writers compile all evidence needed in a family report and it contains assessments of family law cases. Courts appoint family report writers in case they need help with decisions about custody arrangements. To prepare the report, these writers will:
- Consider the family’s situation;
- Explore and discover what caused the issue within the family;
- Recommend arrangements for the child’s welfare and interests; and
- Solely focus on the child’s best interests rather than the parents’.
Parties will have to wait for the court to release a family report before they can receive it. Moreover, parties are not allowed to show this report to anyone except the parties involved in the case and their lawyers. Family members are not allowed to view the family report unless the Court gives permission. This article will discuss how family report writers work.
Who Can Write The Report?
Family consultants, qualified social workers, or psychologists can write a family report. They must possess the skill and experience to work with disputed families, especially when there are children involved. These qualified professionals conduct interviews that may last up to a few days depending on the case.
Essentially, there are 2 types of family reports which are the summary report and the specific report. Interim hearings generally use summary reports or Section 11F reports, unlike Section 62G reports. These reports form the final resolution of family law cases through consent orders. Consent orders are the result of both parties’ mutual agreement and consent.
Meanwhile, a specific report contains limited information that only looks at a specific event or topic about a dispute. The Court Child Expert‘s opinion and findings are also included in this report. However, they are limited to this particular incident or topic and they don’t have permission to look at any other issues.
Why Family Report Writers Consider the Child’s Best Interests
The Court will make judgements for children involved in a divorce or other relationship breakdowns. This gives the child’s best interests the utmost consideration. The child’s best interests will importantly include who the child will live with, the time spent with each parent, and long-term decisions about the child.
Each child will still have different interests depending on the type of case. The goal of the Family Law Act 1975 is to guarantee that parents fulfil their parental obligations and responsibilities. This will then enable children to reach their full potential when they reach adulthood. The Act ensures that children:
- Have protection from physical, psychological, or emotional abuse;
- Have parents that they can share a meaningful relationship with;
- Receive adequate and proper parenting that contributes to their growth; and
- Have parents that meet the responsibilities of a parent even after separation or divorce.
Family report writers greatly consider these factors when conducting their interviews. They ensure that none of the party’s decisions and statements will negatively affect the child’s best interests. Specifically, these writers will pay close attention to the degree of conflict that children are exposed to.
Both the parties’ narratives of their shared past as well as how they each describe the situation will represent this conflict. Some parents might have a different perspective and will only defend what’s good for them. This is why it’s important to also seek advice from a lawyer before having an interview with family report writers.
What Happens in the Interview Process With Family Report Writers?
During the interview, family report writers will collect information about the family’s history. This may include parenting roles, parenting arrangements, and the children’s relationship with each parent and members of the household. They might also enquire about the needs of each child individually, as well as the children’s perspectives on parenting styles.
A child’s perspective is essential when assessing what is in the child’s best interest. However, it is not the deciding element when thinking about parenting arrangements. Family report writers will still consider the child’s age, maturity, and mental capacity when asking these questions. These writers may also make recommendations about:
- Who should have parental responsibility for the children
- Where the children will live and who will oversee them
- If the children need to spend substantial time with the non-primary carer
- If the children need to live with the other parent. Sometimes, it’s not recommended for a child to have equal time for both parents. For instance, the non-primary carer has an apprehended violence order (AVO). If this is the case, family report writers may recommend changing the living or visiting arrangements.
- How the child will spend special occasions and holidays with his/her parents (Christmas, Thanksgiving, or birthdays)
- How often will the child communicate with each parent. For instance, the child will communicate with the mother from 7 pm-9 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Truly, all these factors may seem difficult for disputed parents, especially when they are confident about their parenting abilities. However, both parents will need to consider the child’s best interests while they are attending family report interviews. Click here to read our article about the best custody arrangements for children.
How JB Solicitors Can Help
Families might feel nervous and tense when they engage with family report writers. Indeed, it’s never easy opening up about personal family issues to a stranger. Families would often like to solve their personal relationships on their own.
However, they may put their children at risk and not follow the child’s best interests. Families who are attending family report interviews should first consult with JB Solicitors for legal advice. Our lawyers can explain the dos and don’ts for family report interviews and how parents can present themselves in such matters.
Disputed parents may also choose our mediation services if they want to come to an agreement instead of going to court. This way, disputed parents can save more money with mediation’s cheaper services and avoid costly court proceedings. We also have fixed fees for parents who are on a tight budget for their legal matters.
Message JB Solicitors today for your family law matters.