If you are in court for parenting proceedings, chances are a family report will be ordered at some stage. The family report is very important and you need to go into it well prepared.
It is written by a social worker or psychologist. It provides information for the judge about you, your ex-partner, your children, and any relevant extended family members. The family report is likely to be given significant weight by the judge in deciding what is in your children’s best interests.
The family report writer will be making a holistic assessment. You are being assessed from the moment you walk into reception until you step out of the building, and at every point in between.
- Engage with your children in a loving, relaxed way.
- Show empathy and compassion for the children.
- Be civil and respectful when speaking about the other parent and their new partner.
- Encourage your children to interact with the other parent and their new partner.
- Show understanding and insight into the situation and how it has impacted the children.
- Show that you can rise above the conflict for the sake of your children.
- Speak about the other parent in a balanced way – practice saying positive things about the other parent in the week leading up to the family report interviews.
- Give the other parent the benefit of the doubt.
- Take a problem-solving approach.
- Focus on the future.
- Expose your children to any parental conflict.
- Tell your children what to say.
- Focus on the past.
- Be reactive.
- Badmouth or criticise the other parent – if you have something negative to say, make sure that you balance it with something positive.
- Blame the other parent or jump to the worst possible conclusion about them.
Justine Dean – Samford Family Law