A Guide to Preparing for Family Reports
When a family law matter proceeds to court, it is common for the court to order a Family Report to be prepared. A family report is a written report prepared by a family consultant appointed by the court, to provide the court with an independent assessment of the best interests of the children and the family’s ability to parent. In this blog post, we will provide you with a guide on how to prepare for family reports.
Understanding the Process
Before we discuss how to prepare for family reports, it is important to understand what they are, and how they are used. A Family Report is ordered by the court as part of a family law matter, and the report is prepared by an accredited professional called a family consultant, such as a social worker or psychologist, who the court considers to be an independent expert in children or family matters. The family consultant will meet with the parties, the children (if appropriate) and any other significant people in the children’s lives, such as grandparents or teachers. The report writer will also review any relevant documents, such as court documents and reports from professionals.
The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) governs family law matters in Australia, including the preparation of Family Reports. In Queensland, the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) is supplemented by the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) and the Family Law Regulations 1984 (Cth).
Preparing for a Family Report
1. Be Honest
It is important to be honest with the family consultant. The family consultant’s role is to provide an independent assessment of the best interests of the children, and the family’s ability to parent. It is in your best interest that you are honest about any issues in the family, such as domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental health issues.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), parties have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all relevant information to the court, including to a family consultant. It is important that family reports are accurate; failure to provide full and frank disclosure may result in the court making adverse findings against the non-disclosing party.
2. Be Prepared
You should be prepared for the family consultant’s interview. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you want to say to the family consultant, and be prepared to answer any questions that the family consultant may ask.
The family consultant will want to know about the family’s circumstances, including the family’s history, the children’s relationships with each parent, and the parenting arrangements in place. The family consultant will also want to know about any issues that may impact the children’s well-being, such as family violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental health issues. The family consultant may ask about the children’s development, their schooling, and their interests and hobbies. The family consultant may also ask about any concerns that either parent may have about the other parent’s ability to parent the children.
Review any relevant documents, such as court documents, affidavits, or expert reports before attending. Make notes about any concerns or issues you wish to raise with the report writer and think about how you can best present this information in a clear and concise manner. If possible, speak with your lawyer beforehand to obtain advice and guidance on what to expect during the appointment.
In preparing for interviews prior to family reports, it is essential to talk to your children beforehand about what is going to happen; explain that someone will be asking them questions about their experiences. but that they will not be made to talk about anything they do not wish to. Do not tell your children what to say.
You may need to bring someone to look after your children while the adults are being interviewed and bring food and activities to keep them entertained. The consultant may wish to see how the children interact with their parents.
3. Be On Time
Make sure you are on time for your appointment with the family consultant. Parties are required to attend the family consultant interview at the time and place specified by the family consultant. Failure to attend the interview at the specified time and place may result in the court making adverse findings against the non-compliant party.
4. Bring Relevant Documents
Bring any relevant documents to your appointment with the family consultant. This may include court documents, reports from professionals such as psychologists or counsellors, and medical records.
5. Be Prepared to Discuss Your Children
The family consultant’s role is to provide an independent assessment of the best interests of the children. It is important to be prepared to discuss your children with the family consultant, including their interests, hobbies, and any specific needs they may have.
6. Be Willing to Compromise
It is important to be willing to compromise with the other party for the sake of the children. The family consultant’s recommendations will be based on what is in the best interests of the children, and this may require compromise on both sides.
7. Be Mindful of Your Behaviour
The family consultant will be observing your behaviour during the interview. It is important to be mindful of your behaviour and the language you use during the interview, as this may be taken into account in the report.
What Happens After the Submission of Family Reports?
After the family consultant has prepared the family report, the report will be provided to the parties and the court. The report will contain recommendations about the best interests of the children, and the family’s ability to parent. The court will take these recommendations into account when making a decision about the family law matter.
Need Assistance Preparing for Family Reports?
Preparing for family reports can be a daunting process, but it is important to remember that the family consultant’s role is to provide an independent assessment of the best interests of the children, and the family’s ability to parent. Being honest, prepared, and willing to compromise can help ensure the best possible outcome for the children. At Pullos Lawyers, we have more than three decades of experience helping families navigate a number of sensitive and emotionally taxing family law matters including child custody, parenting orders and separation. If you require assistance, we’d love to help. You can contact Pullos Lawyers on (07) 5526 364 or via our online form.