What does it mean when the Family Court, through a registrar or a judge, has requested the preparation of a Family Report under Section 62G of the Family Law Act 1975? This may seem like an arduous process of interviews and paperwork. This article will thoroughly discuss this to help you prepare by knowing what to expect in this phase.
The Preparation of a Family Report
In the preparation of the family report, the family consultant, who is either a trained and qualified social worker or psychologist, will conduct an interview with you and your partner. The family consultant may also have conversations with other significant family members such as grandparents and may also request your permission to contact teachers, doctors, or other relevant professionals as necessary to get more information about your children. Your children may have a part in the preparation because, depending on their age, they may also be interviewed separately from you or their siblings, if any.
What are the interview questions?
As the report emphasises the interests of the children, the family consultant considers the children's experiences and development. Therefore, the family consultant will ask about your relationship with the children and what you would think would be best for their future. This would also include any information regarding their education or medical concerns.
In terms of parenting disputes, expect questions regarding parenting arrangements and the parenting capacity of each party. The consultant may also inquire about any risks to the children that should be raised in the report.
The information gathered in these interviews will be the basis of the recommendations for arrangements that will cater to the children's welfare and developmental needs.
How long will it take?
These interviews could be held in the Child Dispute Services Section of the Court. Depending on the children’s age, this section of the court may look too formal for younger children so they can instead be interviewed in a more comfortable environment like a playroom.
What are my rights?
The family report is confidential to the parties in the court cases and their lawyers and must be approved and released by the Court before the parties can see it. Other interviewees like family members and professionals who were interviewed in the preparation process cannot see it unless formally requested and the Court gives written permission.
Once the recommendations are finalised, you may also appeal or challenge these recommendations in Court.
We understand that this is a stressful time for you and your family so we hope that this article helped in addressing some of your concerns. If you are facing issues relating to queries regarding the process of a family report, or require family law advice, the team at Coonan & Coonan Legal are here to help you. Contact us on 1300 001 298 or book an appointment on our website www.coonanandcoonanlegal.com.au.