What Is A Family Report?

Those going through a child custody dispute in court, who don't have a Family Court solicitor, will be wondering what exactly a Family Report is and how it works. The information given by the court can be extremely vague so we have provided some general information for you to understand what a Family Report is and what it is used for.

11F Report or Family Report
First of all, there are two different types of common court ordered reports in Family Court. If you need a report quickly to summarise some urgent issues, the court may order a 11F report or memorandum. This will be a relatively quick interview for you and the other party (and sometimes the children) with a report writer to address the urgent issues and receive a recommendation. This is usually only a document that is a few pages in length.

A Family Report is a more comprehensive report addressing all relevant issues in the dispute. This usually involves a full day of interviews between the parties, often third parties like grandparents and new partners and the children. The report writer will meet with all of you, watch interactions with the parents and the children if appropriate, and provide their recommendations moving forward.

How the process works
You will be given information about where to meet on the day but you need to do some preparation beforehand. Double-check whether you need to bring your children and whether there are child-minding services available as the report writer will need to interview you separately to your children and you may need to make arrangements for their care. If you are concerned about being in the same location and waiting room as your former partner or other parties, you need to contact the report writer beforehand and put some systems in place to ensure you are safe.

You will be advised earlier of the schedule for the day so you will know how when and how long each person will be interviewed. After the interviews, you will need to wait for the report until you receive the recommendations. For an 11F report, this is often a quick turn-around, for a Family Report it may take a few weeks or even months.

What's in a Family Report
The 11F Report will be a few pages in length and will contain a brief summary of the relationship, what the important issues are, a few things that were discussed in the interview and what their recommendations are about those issues. A Family Report will comprise of a history of the relationship based on each person's recollection and will display the interview with each person in great detail. It will also provide a discussion on the writer's observations of interactions with the children. At the end of the report, there will be detailed recommendations about how the court should proceed, their opinion on any allegations or issues, and what time the chlidren should spend with each party.

What happens with the Family Report
The Family Report will be provided to the parties and to the court before the next court date. Sometimes you will receive the report weeks or days before court, sometimes you might receive it on the day of court. Usually, the Judge will have read the report before court but sometimes they will need to take a break during the day to read the recommendations. Both parties will then have the opportunity to discuss their view of the report with the Judge. Very often, the Judge will accept and follow the recommendations exactly as written by the report writer. If you disagree with anything in the report, it can be very difficult at an interim hearing or mention to challenge this so be ready for a fight. If your matter is going to a final hearing, you will have the opportunity to cross-examine the report writer and clarify any issues or concerns with the report.

We are Family Court solicitors who are experienced in providing divorce and separation legal advice in parenting and financial disputes. We have many years experience in court advocacy and dealing with matters involving complicated parenting disputes including matters that require several Family Reports.

Contact us for more information or to book a free legal advice session to find out your options.

This information does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer to obtain independent legal advice relevant to your situation.

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