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A bit about me! 
Clarissa Rayward 
Director Brisbane Family Law Centre 
Accredited Family Law Specialist 
Mediator & Collaborative Family Lawyer 
Also known as “The Happy Family Lawyer” 
www.thehappyfamilylawyer.com
And joining me! 
Peter Jordan 
Psychologist & Mediator 
Registered Family Dispute Resolution Provider 
Qualifications in Special Education, School 
Counselling and Psychology 
Former Teacher, Specializes in providing Clinical 
Counselling, Developmental Advice, Forensic 
Reports and Mediation to Families and the Legal 
Sector
How will this work? 
• Please ask questions 
• This is general information 
and remember you should 
obtain advice specific to 
your family
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 don’t like the 
recommendations? 
9. Some tips and tricks and a few 
misnomers.
What is a Family Report? 
Ultimately a document (report) 
that is produced to obtain 
information about your family to 
assist in the determination of 
legal issues affecting your 
children
When are they used? 
Generally these reports 
are Ordered as part of 
the Court process, 
however they are 
becoming more 
commonly used as part 
of settlement 
negotiations or 
mediation
Why are they used? 
- Independent 
- Enable the views/ wishes 
of children to be 
considered 
- Look at the dynamics of a 
family 
- Enable the parties to be 
‘seen’ and ‘heard’ 
- Report writers have 
considerable expertise in 
families 
- A further source of 
evidence for the Court
How can you prepare? 
Be clear about the legal issues that are in 
dispute as at the end of the day this is 
what the report writer will be 
commenting on 
Summarise your main points- write 
them down and take it with you. These 
might be your main concerns or even 
‘positive’ or ‘good’ things that have 
occurred that you might want to share 
with the report writer.
How can you prepare? 
Don’t- 
• Bring suitcase of materials 
• Bring a long list of things that you think the report 
writer 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 to 
assist with caring for the kids when you are being 
interviewed) 
Do- 
• Know what it is that your spouse is after- and be ready 
to talk about why you say that is not the best thing for 
you children 
• Just bring yourself. Be positive, open, listen and be 
ready to talk about your family and particularly your 
future. 
• Be reflective- acknowledge where you may have 
‘messed up’ or done things you are not proud of- it is 
ok to make mistakes- the key is to show that you have 
learned
How can you prepare? 
• Pack lunch, toys and general things to keep the 
kids amused as it could be a long day 
• Plan in advance- so you know where you going 
and don’t be late 
• Be prepared to see your former spouse at the 
interviews or make arrangements prior if there 
are safety concerns 
• Check in advance who you should bring- will 
usually be everyone living in your home but can 
include other family, new partners, other 
children
What do you tell the kids? 
Very little!! 
“We are going to see somebody 
who is going to help us make 
some 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 older 
children that can assist but it is best if the children 
know as little as possible about ‘why’ they are 
speaking to a professional. 
It will not be as ‘strange’ as it seems to you- the kids 
will probably just see it as ‘just another day’ if you 
don’t make too much of a fuss. 
Do let your kids know who else will be there and let 
them know they will have a chance to play with/ see 
the other parent and you separately and will speak 
with the report writer independent of you.
What about safety issues-where 
children don’t want 
to or are anxious about 
seeing the other parent or 
a person? 
Let children know they will be safe. No one will 
force them to do anything.
Don’t 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 ‘tell’ 
anything. Keep your discussions 
with them about the process to a 
minimum. 
Do tell the report writer what 
explanation you have given to 
your kids. 
Children should not know about 
your legal process.
I am worried about the 
kids being ‘coached’ 
Let the report writer know your 
concern and why you have it 
Report writers look carefully for 
signs of coaching- 
• Using adult language to describe 
situations or others 
• Inconsistency (Behavior) & consistency 
(comments) 
“I always ask kids what their parents say” 
(Peter)
What happens on the 
day? 
Each parent and each child will be interviewed 
separately 
The report writer will see you interacting with your 
child/ren 
Usually the report writer will have read the documents 
provided to them before seeing you- but some won’t 
You 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 is 
ok 
• Nervous 
• On edge 
Don’t worry- this is normal, the report writer will 
consider all of this when they are meeting with you and 
writing their report
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 child’s 
relationship with the other parent. 
Questions about your availability to your child. 
Questions about other people in the children’s 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 you 
say it right for your kids. 
Questions about your understanding and attunement to your kids needs. 
Questions about the family dynamics- how you manage conflict and 
communication, 
Your strengths and limitations as a parent. 
Your personal and relationship history.
What might my kids be asked? 
Depending on their age, they may or may not be 
asked questions. 
The report writer may explore, using different 
methods, their likes, dislikes, their emotional 
state, where they are in their developmental 
status, their relationships with others- including 
parents and extended family- the security of their 
attachments, their awareness of conflict, their 
position in your dispute.
What weight will be 
given to what the kids 
say? 
It all depends… 
Age 
Development 
Insight 
Understanding 
Context 
And remember- the report writer 
doesn’t make the decision
You have the report now 
what? 
• Read it quietly, carefully and a few 
times 
• You will find all the bad bits first! 
• Don’t just read the ‘recommendations’ 
• Try and take it for what it is and 
consider what you might need to 
‘change’ 
• Do meet with your lawyer to discuss 
‘where to from here’ 
• Use it where possible as a settlement 
tool
What if you don’t like the 
recommendations? 
At the end of the day a report is only 1 
piece of evidence a Court will consider. 
Lawyers will try and destabilize reports 
by disproving the ‘facts’ upon which 
they were based. This is not easy.
A few tips and tricks? 
– Speak positively- you can express 
disappointment and frustration but there 
is no need to ‘prove’ the other person is a 
‘bad’ person or ‘terrible’ parent 
– Be punctual, respectful and engage 
honestly in the process 
– Don’t feel the need to regurgitate your 
‘affidavit’- try and listen to the questions 
and any the questions you are being 
asked- this may or may not include 
material in your affidavit 
– Remember the information you are 
giving is NOT confidential
Any Questions?
Tuesday 17 November 2014
THANK YOU!
Family reports- What are they, How do you prepare and when are they used

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

  • 1.
  • 2. A bit about me! Clarissa Rayward Director Brisbane Family Law Centre Accredited Family Law Specialist Mediator & Collaborative Family Lawyer Also known as “The Happy Family Lawyer” www.thehappyfamilylawyer.com
  • 3. And joining me! Peter Jordan Psychologist & Mediator Registered Family Dispute Resolution Provider Qualifications in Special Education, School Counselling and Psychology Former Teacher, Specializes in providing Clinical Counselling, Developmental Advice, Forensic Reports and Mediation to Families and the Legal Sector
  • 4. How will this work? • Please ask questions • This is general information and remember you should obtain advice specific to your family
  • 5. 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 don’t like the recommendations? 9. Some tips and tricks and a few misnomers.
  • 6. What is a Family Report? Ultimately a document (report) that is produced to obtain information about your family to assist in the determination of legal issues affecting your children
  • 7. When are they used? Generally these reports are Ordered as part of the Court process, however they are becoming more commonly used as part of settlement negotiations or mediation
  • 8. Why are they used? - Independent - Enable the views/ wishes of children to be considered - Look at the dynamics of a family - Enable the parties to be ‘seen’ and ‘heard’ - Report writers have considerable expertise in families - A further source of evidence for the Court
  • 9. How can you prepare? Be clear about the legal issues that are in dispute as at the end of the day this is what the report writer will be commenting on Summarise your main points- write them down and take it with you. These might be your main concerns or even ‘positive’ or ‘good’ things that have occurred that you might want to share with the report writer.
  • 10. How can you prepare? Don’t- • Bring suitcase of materials • Bring a long list of things that you think the report writer 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 to assist with caring for the kids when you are being interviewed) Do- • Know what it is that your spouse is after- and be ready to talk about why you say that is not the best thing for you children • Just bring yourself. Be positive, open, listen and be ready to talk about your family and particularly your future. • Be reflective- acknowledge where you may have ‘messed up’ or done things you are not proud of- it is ok to make mistakes- the key is to show that you have learned
  • 11. How can you prepare? • Pack lunch, toys and general things to keep the kids amused as it could be a long day • Plan in advance- so you know where you going and don’t be late • Be prepared to see your former spouse at the interviews or make arrangements prior if there are safety concerns • Check in advance who you should bring- will usually be everyone living in your home but can include other family, new partners, other children
  • 12. What do you tell the kids? Very little!! “We are going to see somebody who is going to help us make some 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 older children that can assist but it is best if the children know as little as possible about ‘why’ they are speaking to a professional. It will not be as ‘strange’ as it seems to you- the kids will probably just see it as ‘just another day’ if you don’t make too much of a fuss. Do let your kids know who else will be there and let them know they will have a chance to play with/ see the other parent and you separately and will speak with the report writer independent of you.
  • 13. What about safety issues-where children don’t want to or are anxious about seeing the other parent or a person? Let children know they will be safe. No one will force them to do anything.
  • 14. Don’t 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 ‘tell’ anything. Keep your discussions with them about the process to a minimum. Do tell the report writer what explanation you have given to your kids. Children should not know about your legal process.
  • 15. I am worried about the kids being ‘coached’ Let the report writer know your concern and why you have it Report writers look carefully for signs of coaching- • Using adult language to describe situations or others • Inconsistency (Behavior) & consistency (comments) “I always ask kids what their parents say” (Peter)
  • 16. What happens on the day? Each parent and each child will be interviewed separately The report writer will see you interacting with your child/ren Usually the report writer will have read the documents provided to them before seeing you- but some won’t You 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 is ok • Nervous • On edge Don’t worry- this is normal, the report writer will consider all of this when they are meeting with you and writing their report
  • 17. 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 child’s relationship with the other parent. Questions about your availability to your child. Questions about other people in the children’s 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 you say it right for your kids. Questions about your understanding and attunement to your kids needs. Questions about the family dynamics- how you manage conflict and communication, Your strengths and limitations as a parent. Your personal and relationship history.
  • 18. What might my kids be asked? Depending on their age, they may or may not be asked questions. The report writer may explore, using different methods, their likes, dislikes, their emotional state, where they are in their developmental status, their relationships with others- including parents and extended family- the security of their attachments, their awareness of conflict, their position in your dispute.
  • 19. What weight will be given to what the kids say? It all depends… Age Development Insight Understanding Context And remember- the report writer doesn’t make the decision
  • 20. You have the report now what? • Read it quietly, carefully and a few times • You will find all the bad bits first! • Don’t just read the ‘recommendations’ • Try and take it for what it is and consider what you might need to ‘change’ • Do meet with your lawyer to discuss ‘where to from here’ • Use it where possible as a settlement tool
  • 21. What if you don’t like the recommendations? At the end of the day a report is only 1 piece of evidence a Court will consider. Lawyers will try and destabilize reports by disproving the ‘facts’ upon which they were based. This is not easy.
  • 22. A few tips and tricks? – Speak positively- you can express disappointment and frustration but there is no need to ‘prove’ the other person is a ‘bad’ person or ‘terrible’ parent – Be punctual, respectful and engage honestly in the process – Don’t feel the need to regurgitate your ‘affidavit’- try and listen to the questions and any the questions you are being asked- this may or may not include material in your affidavit – Remember the information you are giving is NOT confidential