Family reports- What are they, How do you prepare and when are they used

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If you are trying to sort out arrangements for your children after your separation you may have heard the phrase Family Report mentioned. In this workshop we discuss what a Family Report is, when and how they are used, and whether it is something you should consider in your circumstances. You can purchase a copy of the online recording here


<ul><li> 1. A bit about me!Clarissa RaywardDirector Brisbane Family Law CentreAccredited Family Law SpecialistMediator &amp; Collaborative Family LawyerAlso known as The Happy Family</li></ul> <p> 2. And joining me!Peter JordanPsychologist &amp; MediatorRegistered Family Dispute Resolution ProviderQualifications in Special Education, SchoolCounselling and PsychologyFormer Teacher, Specializes in providing ClinicalCounselling, Developmental Advice, ForensicReports and Mediation to Families and the LegalSector 3. How will this work? Please ask questions This is general informationand remember you shouldobtain advice specific toyour family 4. What are we going to cover?1. What is a Family Report?2. When are they used?3. Why are they used?4. How can you prepare?5. What happens on the day?6. What do you tell the kids?7. You have the report- now what?8. What if you dont like therecommendations?9. Some tips and tricks and a fewmisnomers. 5. What is a Family Report?Ultimately a document (report)that is produced to obtaininformation about your family toassist in the determination oflegal issues affecting yourchildren 6. When are they used?Generally these reportsare Ordered as part ofthe Court process,however they arebecoming morecommonly used as partof settlementnegotiations ormediation 7. Why are they used?- Independent- Enable the views/ wishesof children to beconsidered- Look at the dynamics of afamily- Enable the parties to beseen and heard- Report writers haveconsiderable expertise infamilies- A further source ofevidence for the Court 8. How can you prepare?Be clear about the legal issues that are indispute as at the end of the day this iswhat the report writer will becommenting onSummarise your main points- writethem down and take it with you. Thesemight be your main concerns or evenpositive or good things that haveoccurred that you might want to sharewith the report writer. 9. How can you prepare?Dont- Bring suitcase of materials Bring a long list of things that you think the reportwriter needs to know and read Bring photographs/ videos or others bits and pieces Get defensive- particularly if you are challenged Bring a cheer squad (but do bring a support person toassist with caring for the kids when you are beinginterviewed)Do- Know what it is that your spouse is after- and be readyto talk about why you say that is not the best thing foryou children Just bring yourself. Be positive, open, listen and beready to talk about your family and particularly yourfuture. Be reflective- acknowledge where you may havemessed up or done things you are not proud of- it isok to make mistakes- the key is to show that you havelearned 10. How can you prepare? Pack lunch, toys and general things to keep thekids amused as it could be a long day Plan in advance- so you know where you goingand dont be late Be prepared to see your former spouse at theinterviews or make arrangements prior if thereare safety concerns Check in advance who you should bring- willusually be everyone living in your home but caninclude other family, new partners, otherchildren 11. What do you tell the kids?Very little!!We are going to see somebodywho is going to help us makesome decisions about the future.He/she wants to get to know you,so he/she can help us.There are some Family Court booklets for olderchildren that can assist but it is best if the childrenknow as little as possible about why they arespeaking to a professional.It will not be as strange as it seems to you- the kidswill probably just see it as just another day if youdont make too much of a fuss.Do let your kids know who else will be there and letthem know they will have a chance to play with/ seethe other parent and you separately and will speakwith the report writer independent of you. 12. What about safety issues-wherechildren dont wantto or are anxious aboutseeing the other parent ora person?Let children know they will be safe. No one willforce them to do anything. 13. Dont tell the kids- Just to be honest! To tell the truth! To make sure you tell him/her how you feel.Avoid telling the kids to tellanything. Keep your discussionswith them about the process to aminimum.Do tell the report writer whatexplanation you have given toyour kids.Children should not know aboutyour legal process. 14. I am worried about thekids being coachedLet the report writer know yourconcern and why you have itReport writers look carefully forsigns of coaching- Using adult language to describesituations or others Inconsistency (Behavior) &amp; consistency(comments)I always ask kids what their parents say(Peter) 15. What happens on theday?Each parent and each child will be interviewedseparatelyThe report writer will see you interacting with yourchild/renUsually the report writer will have read the documentsprovided to them before seeing you- but some wontYou will feel- Like you did not get enough time to tell your story Out of place- it is not a natural environment to play but that isok Nervous On edgeDont worry- this is normal, the report writer willconsider all of this when they are meeting with you andwriting their report 16. What will I be asked?What are your current personal circumstances?What are your concerns?How do they relate to your proposal for your kids?Questions that explore your ability to facilitate and encourage your childsrelationship with the other parent.Questions about your availability to your child.Questions about other people in the childrens lives.Your response to any serious allegations.What ideas you have to overcome any difficulties that have arisen.Questions about your proposal- the practicalities, how it will work, why yousay it right for your kids.Questions about your understanding and attunement to your kids needs.Questions about the family dynamics- how you manage conflict andcommunication,Your strengths and limitations as a parent.Your personal and relationship history. 17. What might my kids be asked?Depending on their age, they may or may not beasked questions.The report writer may explore, using differentmethods, their likes, dislikes, their emotionalstate, where they are in their developmentalstatus, their relationships with others- includingparents and extended family- the security of theirattachments, their awareness of conflict, theirposition in your dispute. 18. What weight will begiven to what the kidssay?It all dependsAgeDevelopmentInsightUnderstandingContextAnd remember- the report writerdoesnt make the decision 19. You have the report nowwhat? Read it quietly, carefully and a fewtimes You will find all the bad bits first! Dont just read the recommendations Try and take it for what it is andconsider what you might need tochange Do meet with your lawyer to discusswhere to from here Use it where possible as a settlementtool 20. What if you dont like therecommendations?At the end of the day a report is only 1piece of evidence a Court will consider.Lawyers will try and destabilize reportsby disproving the facts upon whichthey were based. This is not easy. 21. A few tips and tricks? Speak positively- you can expressdisappointment and frustration but thereis no need to prove the other person is abad person or terrible parent Be punctual, respectful and engagehonestly in the process Dont feel the need to regurgitate youraffidavit- try and listen to the questionsand any the questions you are beingasked- this may or may not includematerial in your affidavit Remember the information you aregiving is NOT confidential 22. Any Questions? 23. Tuesday 17 November 2014 24. THANK YOU!</p>