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Family Report Writer

Two different writers two different reports

Hi all.

We had a Family Report done last year (about May 09), it went strongly in my favour, so strongly that my solicitor commented that it was the most positive report he had ever seen.  Since then the case has been moved from Fed Mags court to Family Court and another Family Report was ordered.

For some reason, we had a different report writer who did everything differently (including raising her voice at me - I kid you not!) and this report is totally different to the first one, even though nothing has changed since the original report (orders and contact at the same level).  I have followed court orders to the letter, completed all recommended courses, my ex on the other hand has not - cancelling contact visits, not attending courses etc.  At the last mention, the latest report writer (while under oath) kept stating that she was not familiar with the case, and didn't have her notes with her………………….His Honour Justice "B" from Brisbane, didn't have a problem with this and just ordered that she do another report in early next year……thus - still no trial date…..  Has this happened to anyone before?

I guess my question is, if there are such glaringly huge differences in the reports can we use both?  Can I request that the original report writer to do another report and can they be called to give evidence/opinion?

Any info would be helpful  :)

Also, I am considering recording the next Report interview, any views on this?
kingsley said
Since then the case has been moved from Fed Mags court to Family Court and another Family Report was ordered.

Under what circumstances was the matter transferred? Is it possible the report was the reason, namely, the other party applied for the transfer, with inherent 12 month delay, to make the report outdated and/or get a new family reporter.

Why would you consent to a new family reporter and not an update?
It was moved up to Family Court due to DV.  I cannot remember if it was the other party that requested this or whether the federal magistrate just ordered it.

I had no idea that had the choice for just an update with the original report writer  :dry: .  I have been doing exactly what i have been told to do every step of the way.  I was concerned that if I dared voice my opinion that I would be seen as "unstable" "pushy" or any thing negative that would ultimately turn negative.  

Unfortunately for me I have already spent over $40,000 in legal fees, am broke, living at friends house and now in receipt of legal aide.  It feels like half the time I must do THEIR job for them……
kingsley said
It feels like half the time I must do THEIR job for them……

"Truer Words Were Never Spoken".  Name the solicitor and FM. It was the solicitor's job, for which he has been amply paid, to protect you from this sort of abuse of process. To allow the transfer is an amateur mistake, to lose a favourable family report plus the writer is negligence. Presumably this solicitor declined to continue on legal aid funding. I don't know the degree or extent of DV but presumably if it emerged after the family report there was likely some contrivance involved.

In my humble opinion the FM is equally at fault. To wash her hands of the matter and allow it to fall into a 12 month black hole in Family Court with more reports and escalating distress and costs is, in my view, disgraceful. Her non decision effectively decides the case. You are defeated financially and the best interests of the child are defaulted.

FM Hartnett has a terrible reputation for this craven behaviour. With the family report in front of the FM your representative should have been asking for new interim orders for the next 12 months of hell on the basis of those recommendations. The FM has a responsibility to the child to promote settlement of matter.  One would have to also censure the ICL who sanctioned this pass the buck (literally).

Regards correcting the family report.

In my humble opinion there should have been the standard argument that the original family reporter be retained to prepare an updated report on the basis of continuity, namely, the expert had established history with the child allowing longitudinal assessment of the child's progress and any changes.

Did the new report refer to the previous family report in the list of materials relied on? It seems strange that the new family reporter would risk a hostile cross and her creditability with totally different conclusions when there was apparently no change, except DV presumably. If she failed to take into account important evidence her findings can be discredited and competence to continue questioned.

The FAMILY LAW RULES - Rule 15.49(2) sets out the basis upon which a second expert's report may be required.    
(1)         If a single expert witness has been appointed to prepare a report or give evidence in relation to an issue, a party must not tender a report or adduce evidence from another expert witness on the same issue without the courts permission.

 (2)         The court may allow a party to tender a report or adduce evidence from another expert witness on the same issue if it is satisfied that:

        (a)         there is a substantial body of opinion contrary to any opinion given by the single expert witness and that the contrary opinion is or may be necessary for determining the issue;

Use the Austlii NOTEUP function on the linked page to find cases referring to Rule 15.49 - "cth consol reg flr2004163 s15.49" These mostly involve property but there are also parenting case precedents, viz,

BASS & BASS [2007] FamCA 622 - Expert evidence - Allegation of bias - Application for appointment of second adversarial expert.  

Bass failed but one can learn from the reasons what the judiciary is looking for to grant leave. Use the Boolean operator AND with the judgement catchwords, e.g. "Expert evidence", to refine the search

From my own experience the opposition just tendered an adversarial report without notice or permission on the day. I wasn't allowed to tender it at an interim but they submitted it at final. This report completely undermined three family reports.  

Regards recording the family reporter. I have read the court is considering an application for the party's solicitors to be present during the evaluation. There are no rules in LAT everything is justified by BIC.
Thank you very much for your reply.  Extremely helpful!

To clarify on the DV, before any court action commenced I had a full no contact DV in place, which of course now raises the question as to why a Form 4 was never submitted.  Unfortunately for me, the DV ran out, I tried to get an extension at the local court, but my ex had it adjourned 4 times for a period of six months (small country court - different magistrate each go) then showed up with a city silk, completed lied, was believed, country mag was seriously impressed with pretty silk from the city, so now I currently have no order to protect us, and he has been taking advantage of this (parking next to my car at family court etc and just generally trying to creep me out).

FM Barry is hearing our case.

I am going to take the information that you have shared with me here to my current solicitor, along with questions regarding form 4.  I will let you know the outcome.

Once again, thank you  :)
In other words the first family report writer based her report on domestic violence claims and the second report was done where there was no domestic violence order to muddy the water.
kalimandancer, I would have thought matters around DV would have been raised in affidavit form anyway regardless of use of the form 4, It is not mandatory to use the form 4 but it is preferred to bring to the courts attention early on to the issues of DV. ..  and certainly should have been addressed at the report writer interview. There is no reason that the first report cannot be submitted by the solicitor as part of additional submissions and that has been referred to in the affidavits. If the party fears for her safety (Although "parking a car next to her car at the Family Court" might be stretching things) then an application to the Police is required. Sustained and on going Family Violence cannot be condoned, tolerated or allowed to continue but it is sometimes unfortunate that we see allegations and "argy bargie" arguments, that happened some years ago, in normal relationships interpreted by one side as Domestic Violence. The issue has to be around words like; recent, current, sustained, on going, persistent, re-occurring, violent, aggressive, not appropriate, and from there read the various State Acts. There is much about that subject on here.

Recording an interview requires open consent. I doubt you will get it. You can ask. The SRL-Resources people would be better informed than I about recordings at report writer interview.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity

Just a question

kalimandancer, I would have thought matters around DV would have been raised in affidavit form anyway regardless of use of the form 4, It is not mandatory to use the form 4 but it is preferred to bring to the courts attention early on to the issues of DV. ..
I have similar problem that DV is claimed in Affidavit only, without Form 4 being filed, but I found that in page 49 of the Family Law Rules 2004 Part 2.3, Division 2.3.1 s.2.04B Filing and service reads:

(1) In case to which this Division applies, if any of the following persons makes an allegation of abuse or family violence the person must file Notice of Child Abuse or Domestic Violence (Form 4):
(a) a party in the case;
(b) an independent children's lawyer in the case;
 a person seeking to intervene in the case.

Could the Secretary SPCA clarify this, please.
As stated in an earlier post the Form 4 is much preferred and used in the Family Court and where possible should be used. Yes you will probably take me to task because I didn't say MUST. There are a number of reasons why it is not used and regardless of its non use or use Justice Chisholm outlined quite a number of pages in his report about the non use of the form 4 and hinted at a possible future expansion of the form 4 as a pre screening utility to also pick up on drug, substance and alcohol abuse. It will be interesting to see what happens there. Regardless, experience says that allegations of violence are often made in affidavit form anyway and are almost always "explored". It would be extremely surprising to hear that was not the case. The omission of a form 4 does not mean that violence does not exist, cannot exist or is not present BUT the courts are not mind readers.

There are a whole range of forms for different things. Nothing upsets the court system more than not following protocols and procedures and the most basic and common sense courtesies extended by you to the court, surely, is to use the correct forms wherever possible. Family Violence is not an easy business. It takes a significant amount of time to get to the bottom of things as each party argues to the extreme opposite end of the scale. If you are in court you are not there for the fun of it and there is probably some significant element of disagreement that you are expecting a court to sort out for you (because the parents , even after mediation … can't).

My best advice to you is read each of the allegations carefully and respond to them in a calm methodical and clear manner so that the court can get a very clear picture of what may have been going on.. And that does not mean write a life story in response…. If you are self represented it takes a significant amount of time to respond properly, calmly, methodically precisely and clearly to allegations made in affidavit form and you may need some advice from the SRL-Resources team. Do not concern yourself with the fact that a Form4 was not used. Concern yourself with getting an appropriate outcome for your children and on going contact arrangements set up in an environment that will reduce any conflict with the other parent. That is for sure what the court is going to attempt to do.

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
 Was my post helpful? If so, please let others know about the FamilyLawWebGuide whenever you see the opportunity
Can I subpeona the Family Consultant to provide evidence of the other parties allegations against me to prove to her that she was lied to by the other party and that I was telling the truth?
Well, the second family report writer has just done an updated report.  I am still reeling in shock from what has been written!

I have done everything the family court has ordered EVERY STEP OF THE WAY even when I haven't agreed with it.  Done the dam courses (the father never bothered) I have NEVER  cancelled  a contact visit (father often cancels), and I got slammed by the report writer!  She has put in the report that I will permanently "mentally scar" the child because I hate the father so much, even though I am apparently doing this unconsciously.  What the fark?  My son is two! He has had 72 visits at contact centre with his father since birth, it has been a real struggle for my son to get used to being separated from me and go to a complete stranger.  I have always done the right thing, encouraging him  to have a good time and reassuring him that mummy will be back soon (as told to do by the professionals), well, apparently this is wrong!  According to this report writer I am a mean, sadistic mummy because I have an ambition for us to live in our own house (as opposed to someone elses garage)!  How can the report be almost the complete opposite to the first report?  She writes if very scatty aswell, saying that her recommendations for contact would be contained later in the report………….but there aren't any, go figure.

And to top the day off perfectly, our judge *****  announced his retirement so now we have to wait for another one and my solicitor resigned from the firm she was working for O_o .  Huge week and still no closer to an outcome

What can I expect in Family Reports

Hello,I amjust about to enter a custody battle with my ex partner, from what you have said the family report can be very daming… Which isn't good!! What is the standard ruling know for access? I have heard so many different seranrios!!We live an 1.5 hours apart.. They have requested a family report.. what is it like? What do they ask you? what are they trying to determine? I do all the same things, i reasure my son that he will be coming home soon and that he is going to have a great weekend with daddy, however when he is at his father's house the majority of the time is spent at his grandmothers while is father is who knows… Any insight on what to expect or tips with the family report would be appreciated!!
Site Modetor said
I almost didn't validate this guest post as clearly there has been no use of the search technology on the site. If Guest had spent time looking around and using the search engine they would have found good examples of and commentary around family reports. Some reports have excellent outcomes and recommendations for both children and parents. Where there is serious parental conflict and the post example above where the father has been having contact at a contact centre, then obviously the report will show there is conflict. You don't usually have contact at a contact centre when the parents work together.
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