June 10, 2020

What is a Family Report?

Are you finding it impossible to reach agreement with your ex about arrangements for your children? Are you in Court and there is an Order for a Family Report and you don’t know what it is and what to do? Read on to find out more.

What is a family report?

A Family Report is a document prepared by a Family Consultant. Family Consultants are psychologists or social workers with experience dealing with children and family disputes. The Family Consultant can be appointed by the Court (if your matter is in Court) or jointly engaged by parties for the purpose out of Court to help reach agreement for parenting arrangements. The Family Consultant will prepare the Family Report.  

A Family Report sets out the Family Consultant’s opinion about what parenting and care arrangements are in the best interests of the children. To form their opinion the Family Consultant conducts a series of interviews and observation sessions with the parents and children as well as with any other household members or significant others (such as partners and extended family) if the Family Consultant thinks necessary. If the children are old enough they will be interviewed on their own separate from their parents and siblings.

 The Family Consultant may explore:   

Issues in dispute

Past and present parenting arrangements

The parenting capacity of each party

The children’s relationships with various people

The children’s views and wishes (this will depend on the children’s ages)

Any risks to the children

Yours and your ex’s family, employment, health and criminal backgrounds

The degree of support you have

The Family Consultant will observe everything on the day, including how the children interact with all of the people in their households and how you and your ex interact.

Our top five tips on how to prepare for the Family Report interviews are set out in our factsheet.

how are family reports used?

Family Reports are used in matters in and out of Court to help parents agree on parenting arrangements.

The Court will always want a Family Report prepared. One of the main reasons is so the children’s views can be put before the Court. A Family Report is one of many documents that assists the Court determine what parenting arrangements are in the children’s best interests. The Court will take into account the children’s wishes having regard to their ages and maturity but will always focus on what is best for them.

If your matter is not in Court you and your ex may still want a Family Report to help you negotiate. Obtaining an expert’s opinion on the arrangements for the children can assist you coming to an agreement.

The Family Law Team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers can advise you on the best time to have a Family Report prepared and recommend the best Family Consultant to prepare the Family Report in your matter.

are family reports confidential?

The interviews conducted for the Family Report are not confidential. Anything you tell the Family Consultant or anything that the Family Consultant sees, will be reported if it is relevant.

The Family Report itself is confidential. Only the parties and those involved in the proceedings (if your matter is in Court) can see the Family Report. It is an offence to show the Family Report to anyone else, including other people interviewed by the Family Consultant without the Court’s permission. The Court can make Orders that allows psychologists, for example, to read the Family Report if it is appropriate and/or helpful.

we can help:

If the Court has ordered a Family Report in your matter or you want to know whether a Family Report will assist in negotiating your parenting arrangements with your ex, we can help. The Family Law team at McInnes Wilson Lawyers can assist with all aspects of the Family Law process. Contact us today for an obligation-free appointment.