By CARMEL MORRISON
If you and the other parent of your child/ren cannot agree on the arrangements for your children, you may find that going to Court is probably the next option. This does not have to be stressful and anxiety ridden for you. At Eales & Mackenzie Lawyers, our friendly family lawyers are available to assist you.
At the first Court date in children’s matters the Court may order you and children to attend interviews with a Family Consultant who is a psychologist or social worker family specialist that helps the Court and the parties. They provide independent expert opinion which the Court takes seriously. The views of the Family Consultant will be influential for the outcome of the case.
The Family Consultant usually meets with each parent and the children separately and at times each child together with each parent, then prepares a written Report. These Reports usually contain pages of the Family Consultant’s observations and opinions and will usually finish up with recommendations for interim or final parenting orders or both.
A very significant part of the Family Report is that it will usually include the Consultant’s impressions of the children’s views and wishes. Usually, these views are not considered by the Court except where an Independent Children’s Lawyer is appointed.
Parents’ views on what they think the children want is usually not considered either, and if the children are under 18, they do not ‘give evidence’ as witnesses in family law cases. It is for these reasons that, with a few exceptions, the Family Report is one of the only ways that the children’s views are considered.
Usually, the Court orders that the Report be prepared by a court-affiliated or appointed Family Consultant at no cost to the parents, but it is also common for the Court to order that parents pay some or all of the costs.
A Family Consultant’s Report may not always be appropriate or necessary. For example, where there are serious concerns for a child’s safety or mental health, the Court may appoint an expert psychologist or psychiatrist to examine the child and provide a report to the Court instead. Often, this is a recommendation from the independent children’s lawyer who may be involved in these cases.
If you have a question about parenting or children’s issues, do not hesitate to contact Eales & Mackenzie’s family lawyers for confidential advice.
Do you need help?
If you have recently separated or are considering separating and there are children of the relationship, our experienced Family Law team at Eales & Mackenzie Lawyers can help you understand these areas and provide you with advice to help you achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children with a minimum of disruption and expense.
Eales & Mackenzie’s experienced team of Melbourne Lawyers are also available to assist you with enquiries relating to the law involving disputes in Melbourne or Australia wide for:
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The contents of this publication, current at the date of publication set out above, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.