This fact sheet provides information for practitioners about the most common types of Court ordered reports prepared by the Court Children’s Service (CCS).
Note: most CCS reports are now ordered under section 62G of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). A report ordered under section 62G of the Family Law Act can only be undertaken by a practitioner acting under their statutory appointment as a family consultant.
All work by family consultants (Court Child Experts or Regulation 7 Family Consultants) is overseen by CCS. For more information about the different types of report writers please see the fact sheet Expert Witnesses in Family Law.
Child Impact Report
The Child Impact Report is a child focussed preliminary assessment report. It provides guidance to parents and the Court about the needs and wellbeing of children.
The purpose of a Child Impact Report is to support Interim Hearings and Dispute Resolution.
A Child Impact Report involves a Court Child Expert meeting with each party (usually remotely via Microsoft Teams), and then a subsequent meeting with children (unless it is decided by the Court Child Expert that this is not appropriate). Assessments of children are generally conducted in-person and may involve an interview and/or a parent-child observation.
The Child Impact Report is primarily focused on:
- obtaining insight about children’s views, needs and experiences, and
- the screening, identification and preliminary assessment of risk issues and other factors relevant for the children and family.
The Child Impact Report is best suited to relatively new parenting matters where a range of issues (including risk, relationships, and developmental needs) need to be canvassed to support early decision-making. Due to its limited nature, the Child Impact Report does not provide an assessment suitable for final hearing or cross-examination.
The CCS Child Impact Report is undertaken by Court Child Experts only.
Reports for final hearing
Child Impact Addendum Report
The Child Impact Addendum Report is a child-focused report which builds upon a previous Child Impact Report and is undertaken by the same Court Child Expert within six months of the Child Impact Report’s release. A Child Impact Addendum Report offers an analysis and evaluation of the issues and needs identified for the children/family in the context of the proposals before the Court, and provides recommendations (wherever possible) to support Final Hearings.
The Child Impact Addendum Report involves a Court Child Expert undertaking limited and targeted enquiries to build upon the information they gathered in the Child Impact Report. The nature and scope of the additional enquiries undertaken will be determined by the Court Child Expert on a case-by-case basis.
The Child Impact Addendum Report cannot provide a comprehensive assessment of risk or other complex issues, and is best suited to matters that involve disputes about children’s relationships and/or development, rather than issues of disputed risk.
Specific Issues Report
The Specific Issues Report is a limited report which targets a particular issue or specific event (such as obtaining children’s views or conducting a parent/child observational assessment) identified by the Court. It offers a limited assessment and a concise report about the issue that has been specifically stipulated in the order and provides (wherever possible) social science opinion and conclusions related to the specific issue for the purpose of assisting a Final Hearing.
The process of a Specific Issues Report is structured to obtain information relevant to the limited issues being assessed. As such, the process will vary on a case-by-case basis to meet the specifications of the Court.
The Specific Issues Report cannot provide a comprehensive assessment of relationships, risk and/or child wellbeing or recommendations that extend beyond the scope of the specific issue being assessed.
The Specific Issues Report is best suited to matters where the scope of information sought is restricted to one or two narrow issues, or a limited assessment event.
A Specific Issues Report is generally undertaken by a Court Child Expert.
The Family Report is a comprehensive report which offers a detailed analysis and evaluation of 60(CC) factors, issues in dispute, and proposals before the Court. It involves an assessment and analysis of risk factors, family relationships, children’s functioning and wellbeing within the family context, and children’s needs, views and wishes. It provides recommendations, where possible, to support Final Hearings.
The Family Report process generally includes interviews with parties (and other adults as relevant) and with children, as well as parent/ child observations where appropriate. A review of relevant file and subpoena material is also undertaken.
The Family Report cannot provide a clinical assessment or diagnosis of any mental health or related issues. It is best suited to matters where a comprehensive assessment of the children’s and family’s circumstances, including considerations regarding risk, relationship and developmental factors is necessary to support final decision-making.
A CCS Family Report is undertaken by a Court Child Expert or a Regulation 7 Family Consultant.
Update Family Report
The Update Family Report is an adjunct report undertaken by the author of a Family Report and involves a limited re-assessment, focused on changes that have occurred in the family since the initial assessment was conducted. It offers a consideration of whether the changed circumstances of the family alter the evaluation and/or recommendations made in the initial Family Report, and provides updated recommendations, where appropriate, to support Final Hearings.
The Update Family Report involves targeted additional enquiries focused on gathering information about the changed circumstances of the family. As such, the process of the Update Family Report will vary on a case-by-case basis.
The Update Family Report cannot provide a comprehensive re-examination or re-assessment of all issues. It is best suited to matters where a family’s changed circumstances are such that they cannot be adequately canvassed with the author of the initial Family Report during cross-examination.
A CCS Update Family Report is undertaken by a Court Child Expert or a Regulation 7 Family Consultant.
For more information about the Court Children’s Service go to: www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/children/ccs
This fact sheet provides general information only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. The Court cannot provide legal advice.