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The Role of Family Consultants in the Family Court- A Guide for the Effective Solicitor

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The Role of Family Consultants in the Family Court- A Guide for the Effective Solicitor Evolution of the Family Consultant 1975- 1995- Counsellors Privileged ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Date added: 6 December 2019
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Provided by: FamilyCou3
Learn more at: http://www.nqla.com.au
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Title: The Role of Family Consultants in the Family Court- A Guide for the Effective Solicitor


1
(No Transcript)
2
The Role of Family Consultants in the Family
Court- A Guide for the Effective Solicitor

3
Evolution of the Family Consultant
  • 1975- 1995- Counsellors
  • Privileged conciliation counselling and family
    reports.
  • 1995 2006- Mediators
  • Privileged conciliation counselling, case
    assessment conferences, family reports. Family
    Court and FMC.
  • 2006 2009- Family Consultants
  • Child Responsive Program - admissible
    assessments to identify key issues and reports to
    assist determination. Separate Family
    Consultants for two Courts

4
The Legislation
  • Functions of Family Consultants - Section 11A
  • (a) assisting and advising people involved in
    the proceedings
  • (b) assisting and advising courts, and giving
    evidence, in relation to the proceedings
  • (c) helping people involved in the proceedings
    to resolve disputes that are the subject of the
    proceedings
  • (d) reporting to the court under Divisions 55A
    and 62G
  • (e) advising the court about appropriate family
    counsellors, family dispute resolution
    practitioners
  • and courses, programs and services to which the
  • court can refer the parties to the proceedings.

5
The Legislation
  • 11C - Admissibility of communications with family
    consultants
  • 38BD(3) (a) - Section 11C (admissibility of
    communications with family consultants) does not
    apply to the officer at any time while the
    officer is acting as a family counsellor or
    family dispute resolution practitioner

6
Who are Family Consultants
  • Social science qualifications (Psychology/Social
    Work)
  • Eligibility for membership APA/AASW
  • Experience in working with and assessing families
    and children
  • Internal supervision, support and accountability

7
Family Consultants- Training and Knowledge
  • Attachment
  • Relocation
  • Shared parenting
  • Overnight visits for young children
  • Parental alignment and rejection
  • Family violence and child abuse
  • Impact of conflict or trauma on children
  • Impact of drug and alcohol misuse on parenting
  • Impact of mental illness on parenting
  • Working with and assessing Indigenous families

8
Family Court Childrens Matters Family
Consultant Roles
  • Less Adversarial Trials
  • Child Responsive Program( Including attending LAT
    events)
  • Supervision and support - Section 65L
  • Family reports and specific issues reports
  • Post orders follow up
  • Magellan Cases
  • Full family assessment reports
  • Supervision and support - Section 65L
  • Post orders follow up
  • Hague Convention
  • Regulation 26 reports

9
Child Responsive Program
  • Commences prior to the 1st Day of the LAT
  • Focus on the childrens needs and views
  • Identification of family violence and other
    possible issues
  • Initial assessment of the children and key issues
  • Case management recommendations

10
CHILD RESPONSIVE PROGRAM (Role of Family
Consultant in LAT)
  • Pre LAT
  • Intake and Assessment Meetings Interview
    parents
  • Child and Family Meetings- Interview children
  • Children and Parents Issues Assessment
  • Optional Selective Settlement Meeting (with
    solicitors)
  • During LAT
  • Oral evidence on first day of LAT
  • Child Dispute Meeting (with solicitors)
  • Attend continuation events as requested
  • Specific issues report or full family report
  • Section 65L (Prior to final orders)
  • Cross-examination
  • Post LAT
  • Post Orders Review and Referral Meeting

11
FAMILY CONSULTANTS ROLE IN LAT
Intake and Assessment Meetings
Child and Family Meetings
Full Family Assessment Report Specific Issues
Report Section 65L
Children and Parents Issues Assessment
Selective Settlement Meeting
Oral Evidence
LAT Continuation/ Finalisation
First Day LAT
Post Orders Review and Referral Meeting
Consent Orders
Child Dispute Meeting
Cross-examination
12
Children and Parents Issues Assessment
  • The children- experience of separation,
    developmental level and views
  • Identify key issues
  • Parents understanding of the childrens needs
  • Future directions recommendations assessments ,
    case management
  • Sent to parties and solicitors prior to first day
    LAT

13
First Day of LAT Role of Family Consultant
  • Provide assistance to the Judge
  • Independent social science expert
  • Relevant social science research
  • Provide information on childrens views and needs
  • Assist in identification of key issues
  • Participate in discussions in court
  • Options for case management, assessments and
    referrals
  • Discuss options for settlement with parties and
    legal representatives

14
Family Report
  • Family Consultant advises on matters to be
    assessed
  • Judge determines matters to be assessed and
    reported on
  • Report to be limited to matters set out in order
    for the report
  • Additional matters can be included if relevant to
    childs best interests
  • Family Consultant usually completes report

15
Finalisation of the LAT - Role of Family
Consultant
  • Provide a family report that focuses on the
    issues determined by the Judge.
  • Give expert evidence based on their assessment of
    the children, report on the childrens views and
    experience of their family and relationships.
  • Assess from a social science perspective, the
    options and comment as to the outcomes that best
    meet the childrens needs and best interests.
  • Advise the Court about the appropriate
    counselling, treatment, dispute resolution or
    support services for clients in community
    agencies.

16
After the LAT
  • The Family Consultant can, if ordered by the
    Court, explain the orders and their effect to
    children and/or parents.
  • Facilitate changeovers of children
  • Refer clients to other services community
    agencies

17
Magellan Matters
  • Family consultant completes a full family
    assessment report ( As ordered by
    Judge/registrar)
  • Section 60CC factors
  • Specific assessment of any risk of future harm
  • Case management recommendations
  • Updated Family reports as ordered

18
Section 65L Supervision and Support
  • Section 65L - Family consultants may be required
    to supervise or assist compliance with parenting
    orders
  • Used only during interim period, prior to final
    orders being made
  • Specific time periods and aims tailored to the
    needs of the case (eg problems with visitation)
  • Admissible as evidence
  • Report by family consultant may be required- on
    compliance with orders or on effect of
    interventions

19
Hague Convention Matters
  • Report under Regulation 26 of the Family Law
    (Child Abduction Convention)
  • An assessment of the child, of whether the child
    objects to being returned to the country from
    which she/he was removed,
  • The nature of the objection, and
  • The possible impact on the child of being
    returned to that country.
  • Explaining orders to children

20
Points for Solicitors
  • Children and Parents Issues Assessments and
    Family Reports
  • Affidavit/subpoenaed material to be read by
    family consultant by order of Registrar/Judge.
  • Raise practical issues of attendance for clients,
    special needs of clients and participation of
    children.
  • Interpret assessment and discuss with clients
    before next return date as feedback to parents.

21
Points for Solicitors
  • Selective Settlement Meeting or Child Dispute
    Meeting (at LAT)
  • Identify when may be useful.
  • Check on admissibility.
  • Participate as arranged by family consultant,
    raised options and assist in settlement.

22
Points for Solicitors
  • Finalization/Final Hearing
  • Confirm family consultant availability as witness
    prior to event.
  • Advise witness of progress of trial, and if not
    required.
  • Liaise with family consultant on any arrangement
    for explaining orders to children, or handovers.

23
The Role of Family Consultants in the Family
Court- A Guide for the Effective Solicitor
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