What is a Child Impact Report and What Can I Expect?

If you are in the midst of parenting proceedings before the Family Courts, you would have most likely heard about a Child Impact Report.

A Child Impact Report is prepared by a Child Expert, who is usually a social worker or psychologist who is employed by the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. The role of the Child Expert is to meet with the parents individually for assessment and on occasions, observe each parent’s interactions with the children, so as to provide a short-form assessment to the Court, to assist a Senior Registrar in making an interim decision at an interim hearing or to assist the parties in reaching a final agreement at Family Dispute Resolution or Mediation.

The Child Impact Report will usually outline the issues in dispute between the parties, together with the areas where the parties are in agreement, it will also recommend a pathway forward, including recommended care and living arrangements for the children and any interventions that may be required, for instance, counselling for the children, participation of parents in a parenting program etc.

In the current covid climate, the Court is requiring the parties to first attend at intake which takes place online by way of video conference and then a second session where observations of the children and each parent usually take place.

Due to the Child Expert being employed by the Court, they have access to all documents filed by each party, in addition to material which has been produced to the Court pursuant to a Subpoena, for instance Police records, medical records etc. Such documents assist the Child Expert in their inquiries and their formulation of a plan to help in progressing the parties to a resolution.

It is important to be aware that once the Child Impact Report issues that you cannot disclose it to another person, other than your family lawyer, without the leave or permission of the Court first being obtained. It is not uncommon for leave of the Court to be requested for a party to provide the Child Impact Report to a Psychologist of the children or each party.

It is important to note that a Child Impact Report is very much a short-form report and whilst it may assist in determining interim issues and on occasions, matters on a final basis, more complex matters will likely require the completion of a more fulsome report, being a Family Report, which we have already discussed in our previous blog, What is a Family Report and What can I expect?

Should you have any questions arising from this blog, or your circumstances generally, please call one of our Gold Coast Family Lawyers or Logan Family Lawyers for a free 15 minute telephone chat.

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