If court proceedings are required, a Family Report will be ordered. The report will be completed by a Family Consultant from the Court or a private Family Report writer. If a Family Consultant is provided by the Court, parties do not generally need to pay for the report. If a private Family Report writer is used, parties generally share the cost.
The recommendations of the Family Report writer are taken seriously by the Family Court, but the Judge is not obliged to follow them. Ultimately the Family Report is only one part of the evidence in a case. If a party wants to dispute the recommendations of the Family Report writer or seeks to clarify aspects of their recommendations, the Family Report writer can be called to give evidence at the trial.
In complicated cases, an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) may be appointed to represent the children. Depending on the age of the children, the ICL often meets with the children to discuss their concerns and wishes. The ICL will provide the Court with a legal opinion about the best interests of the children. Children are not allowed to attend family law hearings, so the ICL is one of the main channels (along with the Family Report) used to inform the Court about the children’s views. If you have any questions about the Court process for parenting arrangements, we would be glad to talk about the process with you in more detail.
Sometimes parties do not comply with Court Orders. If a party regularly fails to comply with a Court Order, it may be necessary to file a Contravention Application to enforce the Court Order. One of our lawyers can assist you with this process.