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  • Gabriella Ferraro

Parenting Cases: Child Impact Reports

Written by Nanki Kaur

In cases involving parenting matters, the primary consideration of the Court is the best interests of the child(ren). To ensure their well-being, children are generally not involved in the proceedings as witnesses or required to express their opinions about care arrangements concerning them. However, there are methods available to gather the views and opinions of children, such as through a Child Impact Report.

A Child Impact Report is a valuable tool used by Judges and Registrars in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to address the perspectives of the parents/caregivers involved in the proceedings as well as those of the child(ren). Its purpose is to assess whether the disputed issues can be narrowed down or resolved at the early stages of litigation, and it aids the Court in determining the appropriate management of the case.

These reports are prepared by Court Child Experts, qualified psychologists or social workers employed by the Court in the Court Children's Service. They possess expertise in matters related to children and families after separation and divorce.

The Assessment for a Child Impact Report consists of two stages:

Stage 1: The Court Child Expert conducts separate interviews with the child(ren)'s parents/caregivers. They inquire about various aspects, including the child(ren)'s relationship with each parent/caregiver, changes after separation, the child(ren)'s age or developmental stage, safety concerns, parental conflict, and any other relevant matters. The information provided in Stage 1 is not confidential and can be used as evidence in the Court proceedings. This stage is typically conducted virtually.

Stage 2: In this stage, the child(ren) meet with the Court Child Expert in person for an interview. If there are multiple children, they may be interviewed together and separately. The child(ren) are asked about their feelings and experiences regarding the family situation after separation. It is important to note that children are not obliged to express their views or wishes if they choose not to. After interviewing the child(ren), the Court Child Expert may wish to speak with the parents/caregivers again or observe their interactions with the child(ren).

It is crucial that children are not coached or instructed on what to say to the Court Child Expert. Parties involved in the proceedings should inform the child(ren) that they will be speaking with someone who wants to hear their views and experiences, but they are not obligated to discuss anything they do not wish to.

If you have any questions regarding the processes involved in parenting proceedings, such as the Child Impact Report, feel free to reach out to our team. Our highly experienced team is well-equipped to assist you with your inquiries.

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