In Family Law Cases in Australia the use of single experts for private family reports is a valuable, and sometimes necessary, practice. These single experts are typically qualified psychologists or social workers who are appointed by the court to conduct comprehensive assessment of family dynamics and provide impartial recommendations to assist in resolving disputes related to children’s welfare and parenting arrangements.
Their role in a private family reports include :
Child Centred Assessments : when writing a family report Single experts will focus on the best interests of the child or children involved. They will conduct in-depth evaluations to understand their needs, preferences and relationships with parents, siblings, half siblings and caregivers.
Parent and Extended Family Assessments : The expert when assessing to write family reports in perspective of the child and their individual needs they will conduct an evaluation of both the parents and possibly extended family or anyone that is viewed as having a close and meaningful relationship with the child or children. They will examine things like mental health, family dynamics, look at the relationships which exist between parents and extended family in relation to assessing what is best for the child. They will examine possible conflicts which may be present, they will examine the relationships between the child and extended family and determine any risk factors which may be of concern and advise on how these can be overcome, the expert will request information of circumstances from the past from each family member and may request for elaboration of certain details which they view may be relevant to the current matters at hand.
Objective Recommendations : The Family Report provided by expert to the court will contain impartial evidence based recommendations regarding parenting arrangements, custody, visitation and other matters affecting children’s well-being.
Conflict Resolution : Single experts play a crucial role in facilitating conflict resolution by offering insights into the unique dynamics of each family, which can lead to more informed decision-making by the court or parties involved.
Court Admissible Reports : The findings and recommendation of the family report written are presented in court as expert evidence, aiding the legal process by providing professional insights into complex family issues.
Cost Effective: Using a Single expert for family reports can be more cost effective and efficient than having multiple professionals involved in the assessment process.
Privacy and Sensitivity: Single Experts are trained to handle sensitive family matters with care and empathy, ensuring that the assessment process respects the privacy and emotional well-being of all parties, especially children.
Why enlist the skills of a single expert in your family law matter?
- The main objective in enlisting a single expert is to assist in dispute resolution and assist the court in determining what is in the best interests of the child or children.
- The expert when providing their family law report will provide expert evidence that is un-biased to help the parties and courts involved understand family dynamics which can often be complicated.
- It will save the courts and you time and expenses which may apply if there are two or more experts especially in a scenario where the expert opinions may differ.
- The family report may assist in reaching a resolution to your family law matter pertaining to your child or children and their arrangements sooner thus saving you costs associated with further litigation.
Hints and tips on how to prepare for a family report
- Consult with a family lawyer who can help you prepare and offer advice on the process
- Read the affidavit material and familiarise yourself with areas of concern, bring notes along which may assist you prepare and answer any questions put forth.
- Have an arrangement that you wish to put forth prepared with reasons on why you may think these arrangements are in the best needs and interest of your child or children.
- Always remain focused on the children and their best interests.
- Do not make degrading remarks about the other parent or put them down as this may be seen as a barrier for co-parenting and being able to facilitate meaningful relationships between the child/children and other parent.
- Make sure you are well presented for the interview wear comfortable clean clothes, shoes, ensure your hair is clean and tidy etc.
- Bring along snacks and drinks for yourself and your child/children as some interviews can take up most of the day.
- Bring along games or activities for the children to keep them occupied throughout the day.
- You are able to bring along another adult to assist with watching the children whilst you attend the interview
- DO NOT advise the children on how to behave, what to say to the expert. The child should feel confident, safe and comfortable to express their wants, opinions, views and wishes
- The information provided to the expert for the purpose of a family report will not be confidential and therefore may be presented in court proceedings.
- The use of Single experts in family reports is essential for providing impartial, child-focused assessments and recommendations that contribute to the resolution of family disputes. Their expertise aids in ensuring the best interest of the child or children involved are prioritised while promoting efficient and cost-effective conflict resolution in family law cases.
Yashodi Alvarez, Law Student