Family reports are a useful tool for helping parents to understand the needs of their children when the parents are separating and in the years that follow.
The best use of a family report is for the parents themselves, regardless of whether they might subsequently be asking a court for Orders in relation to their children.
A privately commissioned report speaks directly to the parents and helps them to develop insight into their ways of dealing with each other after separation and how that might be impacting on their children.
Rosalin has written many reports and believes that there are a few patterns that can develop between parents that become huge problems for their children. At worst, children’s mental health can be compromised by these patterns. Habits of anxious pre-occupation can interfere with their academic and social development.
The biggest challenge children have is their parents’ anger and resentment toward each other. If children have parents who resolve their conflicts at adults only meetings, they may be aware that there is tension but it does not have to involve them or trouble their sense of security.
If children have to worry every time there is a changeover or a school or sporting event that might bring their parents together, they begin to ‘walk on eggshells’. One nine year old recently said that every time she leaves one of her two homes, does not matter which parent she is with, she becomes vigilant. There have been too many times when she has had to endure a chance encounter with the other parent or some of their friends and fighting has broken out.
A close second challenge to children after separation is the relocation of one parent so far away that the children are forced to commute long distances to see the one with whom they can no longer live. An allied pattern to relocation is parents re-partnering, which makes things much more complex for children.
Parents who commission a family report with the intention of using it to help them navigate these shoals, usually find benefit and support for changing their part in how conflict is managed.
Family reports are also available to be presented in court, if one or other parent feels the need to ask a court to make a ruling on children’s matters. They are not the only evidence a court might consider but they are an important piece, written by a neutral and child-focused social scientist.
Family reports are also commissioned by Independent Children’s Lawyers, who in turn are commissioned by the court and funded by Legal Aid. In that case, Rosalin’s brief will come from the ICL and her report will go back to the ICL.
Rosalin may also be called as a witness in any subsequent trial. Nothing in a family report can be considered confidential, unlike in other psychology services.
Rosalin also writes Social Assessment Reports, which are commissioned by Separate Representatives of children in the care of the Department of Child Safety. When this is the case, the Separate Representative provides Rosalin with a brief and her report returns to the Separate Representative. These matters turn on whether an application before the Children’s Court is in the best interests of children in care.