It is not uncommon that when a Family Report is received, one party is really happy with it and the other party is not. This article addresses the options you have when you do not agree with the recommendations of the Family Report.
What is a Family Report?
A Family Report is a report prepared by an independent expert, either a Social Worker or Psychologist, who is appointed the single expert witness, for the purpose of preparation of the report.
The Family Report Writer interviews the parties, the children and significant others, and prepares a report, with recommendations, as to what orders are in the children’s best interests.
For more information in relation to the purpose of the Family Report, the process and issues that will be addressed by the Family Report, check out our video on this topic.
What if I don’t agree with the Family Report?
A Family Report is generally speaking a heavily weighted piece of evidence in any parenting case.
Whilst a Court is not bound to follow the recommendations of a Family Report, they may do so at an Interim Hearing, or until a Trial, at which time the Judge can test the evidence and make findings of fact as to who is telling the truth and who is not.
At a Trial, if a party does not agree with the recommendations of the Family Report Writer, they may cross examine the Family Report Writer in Court.
If the Court seeks to make orders contrary to the recommendations of the Family Report at Trial, the Judge should have good reasons for doing so.
If you do not agree with the Family Report, or you think the Family Report Writer is biased, this is not an adequate reason, without evidence supporting such a finding, to seek an order from the Court discharging them as a single expert witness and appointment of another Family Report Writer.
There is a very high threshold that must be satisfied in order to discharge a single expert witness because of bias.
Prior to a Trial, if you disagree with the Family Report, the best strategy is to clarify the Expert’s report by asking questions of the Family Report Writer, within 21 days of receipt of the Report.
The court is quite critical of parties who fail to undertake this process prior to filing an application to discharge the Single Expert Witness.
I need help with a Family Report I don’t agree with
If you have a Family Report that you are unhappy with and you would like advice in relation to that report, and to exercise your opportunity to ask questions of the Family Report Writer within the relevant time frame, contact us to book an appointment with one of our experienced Brisbane Family Lawyers about your individual circumstances.