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Digesting and Addressing the Family Report

The perception is that Family Reports have a huge influence on Court Decisions. The truth is they can.

Case law says the evidence contained in a Family Report or given by a Family Report Writer deserves no special consideration and should be subject to the same considerations of Credit and Weight as any other evidence.

Once the Family Report is received, it is important to identify the key issues as expressed by the recommendations and any other specific issues raised in the body of the report. It is important to understand that much of what the Family Report contains will merely be a recounting of what each party has told the report writer. Getting caught up in the minor details or what are uncomfortable but irrelavent details will limit the SRL's ability to address the major issues and likely limit their ability to achieve a satisfactory outcome.

In a recent case, the family Report was very negative toward the father. Recommending no overnights where he would need to get the children to school. Another of this Father's issues was his children's opportunities to be involved in sports and extra caricular activities. The family report had brushed these concerns aside also, with the comment "Children change their mind".

Evidence the children were not late to school was put to the Family Report Writer, which resulted in the Report Writer's objection to mid week overnights being withdrawn. Then some questions were asked about the benifits of sports and other constructive activities and about a parents responsibility to encourage a child in the face of short term opposition to an activity. Again the family report Writer withdrew the objection and in fact reinforced the Father's case.

In another the case, the Family Report was also extremely negative. Including making a "Clayton's Diagnosis" about mental health issues. The SRL did a marvelouus job of damaging the Family Report Writer credibility and opinion. Unfortunately in this case the FM (A brand new one) didn't want to take any notice so the outcome was negative to the SRL. This case has gone to appeal. One of the grounds is the failure of the FM to consider the incosistencies in the Family Report and the Report writers evidence.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
You mention that case law says the family report be given no extra weight. Where might I find this?

"When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside can not hurt you"

It is not a question of "Extra Weight"

Dominik said
You mention that case law says the family report be given no extra weight. Where might I find this?
 

What I said was case law say the family report should be subects to the same test for accuracy, credit and weight as any other evidence. They aren't supposed  get special consideration in those areas.

Typically Family report writers do influence the court because they are considered experts in their specific field. the particular area of expertise may vary from writer to writer.

It also important to remember the writer is subject to the same rules in cross examination as any other witness. Start to give conflicting evidence and they need to have a convincing reason or risk loosing creditability. If they make observations or express opinion outside their area of expertise they risk being ignored.

Start telling outright lies and the risk being thrown out of court - yes it has happened.

It is also acknowledged that The family Report is reporting about and instant in term, that is why the court is supposed to consider all the evidence, not just the family report.

If are preparing for a final hearing or trial where the family report is to be presented, you would be better to focus on indentifying the key findings and recomendations, and then figuring out how to present your case to get the best outcome.

Telling the Judge or Magistrate that the family report isn't entitled to extra consideration won't help you and wastes time that could be better in other ways.

If you are contempplating an appeal, then you would need to be considering why the family report got the incorrect weight or had too much influence, was you case presented properly and effectively, did you receive proceedural fairness. Did the Judge make up his/her mind too early. These are technical questions relating to the Courts decision making process and proceedures. Of all the argument one can make at appeal, questions of weight and credit are the most difficult to argue successfully.

If the error is blatant, then the first stage is to develop the argument to demonstrate the error. The case law support that argument, case law is not the argumnet itself.

For me - Shared Parenting is a Reality - Maybe it can be for you too!
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