The information provided below is general in nature and should not be relied upon legal advice. You should call 03 5445 1000 and speak to a lawyer at OFRM about your particular circumstances.

Family Reports explained

Family Reports explained

In a contested matter regarding children, if the children are at a developmental stage that they can engage in meaningful conversation about the relevant issues, a court will require that there is a family report prepared to be considered by the court before making a final decision.

The report is prepared by a psychologist (sometimes social workers) who reads the court documents, meets with the parties and the children, speaks to other relevant people (schools, doctors etc.) and writes a report with their recommendation of what are the arrangements that will be in the best interests of the children.

Family reports often lead to parties settling because:

  • it is powerful to hear recommendations from an expert
  • issues are clarified
  • people don't want to continue the proceedings
  • reports helps people recognise what is in their children's best interests

If a matter doesn't resolve the report writer will attend court and be cross-examined during the hearing of a matter — which is often more of a conversation in the court with the judge testing thoughts about the best orders.

The court employs a small amount of these staff directly and contracts others but the vast majority are private reports where the parties pay the cost associated with the report, which can be significant.

A family report is a useful step in family law proceedings but it is important to understand that process and be well prepared for the report appointments.