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Expert evidence including a family report provides the Court with material from an independent viewpoint, which both assesses and highlights particular issues with each unique case. The most common form of expert evidence in family law proceedings is family reports, which are undertaken by psychologists to determine the children’s views, the party’s capacity regarding parental issues, and any emotional or psychological effects of previous family violence or abuse.
The family report writing expert appointed typically has extensive professional knowledge both of the field relevant to the evidence, but also the background and history of the case before them. The expert’s role is to assist the Court by presenting evidence in an impartial manner to provide valuable information to assist the Judge in forming an opinion of the case. This is required pursuant to Rule 15.59 FLR, Division 15.2 FCCR.
If the Court makes findings of fact in relation to either family violence, child abuse, risk of family violence, or abuse prior to the reporting process, the family report writer is provided with a copy of the Court’s findings and the report is to incorporate that information.
When determining whether a family report writer or other expert evidence should be appointed, the Court may wish to satisfy itself that the expert has both the appropriate qualifications and experience to assess the circumstances of the case, but also measure the impact and effect of any family violence or abuse to any parties of the proceedings.
Importantly, when providing this evidence to the Court, the expert or family report writer must be aware of the allegations and whether the victim or affected parties’ residence, contact details, or whereabouts are to remain unnamed during the process.
When considering orders to conduct a family report or other expert report, the Court may consider the following relevant factors, and, direct the expert to:
The impact of said violence and abuse on the child and relevant parties;
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