If your dispute involves children then the Court has the power to order that a Family Report (or Welfare Report) be prepared by a family consultant.
The Judicial Officer can direct family consultants to provide a report about the care, welfare and development of your child.
If the Family Report is ordered by the Court, then the report will be prepared by an in-house social worker at the Family Court or by an expert, (social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist) privately engaged.
Family consultants are generally psychologists and/or social workers who specialise in child and family issues surrounding relationship breakdown.
Family consultants can help you and the Courts in many ways, they can:
The family consultants must notify a child welfare authority if:
You cannot speak off the record with a family consultant. Communication with family consultants is not confidential, and may be used in Court. At the beginning of a conference, the family consultant must tell you it is not confidential. If you are still unsure what this means, ask the family consultant to explain it again, so that you do understand.
In some situations, even before Court proceedings are instituted, you and your partner can agree to have a social worker/child psychologist prepare an independent Family Report concerning the children. This may be advisable where you have experienced particular difficulties in resolving the issues in dispute and you both need some professional and expert guidance.
Reports prepared by social workers or psychologists in the Family Court are usually of significant
assistance to the Judge in determining the issues in dispute.
A Family Report usually involves the following steps:
Most times, the family consultant will try to work out the views and experiences of your child and to include those views in the report. Sometimes it is not appropriate to report on a child’s views because of their age, maturity or some special circumstances.
If you fail to attend any appointment with a family consultant or to follow instructions made by the family consultant, the family consultant must report this to the Courts.
Further details with respect to Family Reports can be obtained by contacting one of our Solicitors, who can offer practical legal advice and guidance. We can assist by referring you to experienced social workers and psychologists for the purpose of preparing Reports.