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Merry Christmas from the LGM Family Law Team!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! From the LGM Family Law team, we wish you a safe and Merry Christmas. With only two more sleeps to go, we thought we’d share some of our favourite ideas on how to spend them.  

Merry Christmas from the LGM Family Law Team

Christmas Parade – Take the family into the City to catch a glimpse of the spectacular free Christmas Parade hosted by the Brisbane City Council in Queen Street Mall. Running from 7 – 7:30 pm tonight and Christmas Eve, it’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Christmas Light hunting – Discover the best Christmas light displays in your local area with 4KQ’s Christmas light winner’s list. Feel the Christmas magic as you gaze at the incredible lighting displays.

Beach Cinema – Unwind while watching your favourite Christmas movie classics on the big screen. Hosted at South Bank Parklands at Streets Beach, enjoy a free viewing of Elf with your family tonight from 6 to 7:30 pm.

Most of all, make sure you take the time to enjoy your Christmas break with friends and family.

Allegations of family violence in a child custody battle

How might family or domestic violence allegations affect you seeing your children?

Your former partner has falsely accused you of abusing them in the presence of your children. Maybe you have been falsely accused of abusing your children. Will it impact your parental right to see and spend time with your children? What can you do?

Dealing with family violence accusations

 

It can be a distressing time discussing parenting arrangements (previously known as child custody) with your former partner. Add a false accusation of abusive behaviour, and your stress levels could go through the roof. It is important to take these sorts of accusations seriously. They may impact the orders that a court will be willing to make around the time that your children have with you, at least on an interim basis. However, the fact of accusations being made doesn’t mean you lose any chance of seeing your children.

In the early stages of a court proceeding, orders may be made for the time that children spend with each parent on an interim basis.  Those Orders ordinarily outline the role of each parent, and often set out who will have the primary care of your children until further orders are made. Although it is only the first order, these orders may be in place for up to a year or more depending on how your matter progresses and how busy the court lists are.

How might a false accusation of family violence impact your rights at this early stage?

The court has two primary considerations when it comes to parenting arrangements for a child. The first is to facilitate a meaningful relationship between the child and both of their parents. The second is to protect the child from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect, or family violence. However, the court must give greater weight to the second consideration – protecting the child from abuse, neglect, or Family violence. If there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or family violence, the court must look at making provisions to protect the child. This could mean that one parent receives primary care of the child/children, whilst the other parent may have restricted or only supervised time with children, at least until the Court is able to test the evidence concerning the allegations of violence.

During an interim hearing, evidence cannot generally be tested and instead, is weighed up on the probability of the claim.

However, the court is entitled to heed allegations which the court regards as significant and to consider the allegations in the context of an interim hearing.

Our experienced legal team can help you through this process, to ensure your evidence is presented in a way which will assist your case.

Tips for arranging Christmas post-separation

Christmas is a time for joy, love and sharing. If this is your first Christmas post-separation, here’s a few tips to ensure the holiday remains festive for you and your family.  

Ensuring Christmas remains a merry time for you and your kids, post-separation.

 

 

 

Christmas pre-separation, its synonymous with excitement, happiness, and probably Santa. Christmas post-separation, brings a whole new category of synonyms. They don’t have to be negative, but without the right planning and discussions, it can end up being a time full of turmoil.

There are multiple avenues to consider when discussing arrangements with your former partner for time with the children on Christmas Day. The most common arrangements are:-

  1. A time-sharing arrangement. An example would be the children spend 9:00am on Christmas Eve to 12:00pm on Christmas Day with one parent and 12:00pm on Christmas Day to 5:00pm on Boxing Day with the other parent; or
  2. An alternate year arrangement. An example would be that the children spend the entirety of Christmas Day with one parent in any year ending in an even number and with the other parent in all years ending in an odd number.

Both have their pros and cons. You need to work out what works best for you and for your children.

Consider:-

  1. Do you like to go away over Christmas?
  2. Will either of the above arrangements affect your Christmas traditions?
  3. Do you live close to your former partner? Is travelling for a changeover on Christmas Day practical?
  4. Do your children have daily routines/requirements that can’t be skipped on Christmas Day? Will this affect changeover times?

First and foremost, consider how your children will cope with either of the arrangements.

Consider putting a proposal forward in writing to your former partner setting out exactly how the Christmas period could work and ask for your former partner’s opinion and requested changes on your proposal. Negotiate from there.

If you still can’t reach an agreement or if it is better for you to correspond through a lawyer, contact us and we will be happy to prepare a letter to your former partner setting out your proposal and settle an agreement.

Free Consultations with our Family Lawyers at Chermside

Monthly Free Consultations with our family lawyers! Next session 5:00pm-8:00pm on 4 August 2016. We offer complimentary consultations each month at Chermside. One of our family lawyers will be available to give you personal advice on your matter. You or a family member may have separated or may be thinking about your future direction. Whatever your situation, knowing where you stand can help you make the best decisions for you and your family. CONTACT US to make your booking. PRE-REGISTRATION is ESSENTIAL and places are limited.

Family Law Consultations

 

Or if you can’t make it to one of our free consultations held at Chermside, why not give us a call today? We know it can be tricky knowing where to start when you’re looking for advice following a separation, child custody battle or any family law matter. That’s why we provide free 15 minute consultations over the phone. You can speak with one of our senior solicitors to gain useful and immediate advice to help you start your journey forward. Call us now.

Loans and Gifts offered by parents in family law. Is there a difference?

 

 

Parents are often eager to help their adult children setting up home with their new partners. As parents, wanting to see their child build a solid financial future is natural. Which is why providing money, whether as a loan or a gift, towards the purchase of the couple’s first home is common. With the median property price for a home in Brisbane apparently exceeding $600,000, it is not surprising that for many couples starting out, breaking into the property market would not be possible without parents’ financial support.

At other times, parents may help out with finance for a new car; the cost of braces for the youngest grandchild or towards renovations for a new kitchen.

For the parents, it is a wonderful thing to be helping to set their child up for the future or simply to be making life just a little easier where possible. For the lucky recipients, it is often a welcome stress relief and unexpected boon.

Sometimes, a parent may expect that that the money will eventually be repaid. On other occasions, money may be intended as a gift, without any expectation on the parent’s part that it will be repaid.

Even where there may be some broad understanding that monies will be repaid, it is often the case that there is no written agreement or even correspondence that shows that this is what parties intended.

Difficulties can arise years later however where the couple may decide to separate or divorce. The money that the parents previously provided the couple may become an issue in their property settlement. Parents may at that point become concerned that that amount be repaid to them or at the very least that that amount be “credited” in favour of their child in the property settlement.

Why does it matter whether money is provided as a gift or a loan?

Many different factors are important at law in determining what property is available for division between former partners and entitlements of each party. For more information on this topic, see our Property Settlement Law page.

In Family Law, debts of the relationship are taken into consideration and reduce the net asset pool available for division between a former couple.

If a family member provided money to a former couple or their relation by way of a loan, then it may be viewed as a joint debt of the relationship. The balance owing will then be taken into account as a debt of the relationship requiring payment. This means the actual amount owing to the family member is deducted from the assets available for division between the parties.

If, the money received from a family member is characterised as a gift,the money gifted will be treated as a financial contribution made by the partner whose family member provided the original funds. That partner may then expect that some adjustment from the asset pool may be made in his or her favour.

It is important to note however that the partner whose family member provided the original funds is unlikely to receive a dollar for dollar adjustment in his or her favour for the amount of the original gift.

In some cases, when money is gifted very late in the relationship, the gifted amount may be quarantined in favour of the partner whose family member provided the original gift or the monies may be excluded from the pool of assets being divided between the former partners. However, whether this will occur will depend on many different factors, including at what stage in the relationship it was received. However, there is no guarantee that money received late in a relationship will be excluded by the Court when determining what property is available for division and how it should be divided.

It is not uncommon after separation for a dispute to arise in relation to whether money received from family members was a gift or a loan. Clearly, one partner will benefit if their family member receives their money back and then they receive their entitlement from the reduced asset pool, only to have the money re-gifted or the debt waived once the property settlement with their former partner is finalised.

Where there is a dispute whether monies were provided by way of loan or gifted, a Court will closely consider the terms of the arrangement in order to ascertain whether the money was intended as a gift or whether it actually is a debt of the relationship and should be repaid by the parties.

Is it a gift or a loan?

The Court will consider all of the circumstances surrounding the transfer of the money, including but not limited to:

Whether there is a written agreement providing the terms of a loan;
Whether there is a finite loan period or a date/s for repayment;
Whether there have been any repayments made;
Whether there have been any requests for payment from the alleged lender prior to separation;
The purpose or intention behind the transfer of the money;
at what stage of the relationship it was received;
How many years it has been since the money was provided and whether subsequent actions (or inaction) has changed the nature of the initial agreement;
Whether the alleged loan is secured by way of mortgage or charge; and
Any other relevant factors.
If you are intending to loan a family member who is in a relationship or marriage some money, or you are the recipient of an inter-family loan, all parties should obtain independent legal advice and ensure that the loan is appropriately documented before any funds are provided.

If you would like more information on how to determine whether monies are likely to be characterised as a loan or a gift, please do not hesitate to contact LGM Family Law. Or call us today for a free 15 minute consultation.

Is it okay to use Social Media and Email during my family law matter?

 

We see people letting off steam all the time through social media platforms like Facebook, twitter and Instagram. Email and text messages too are an easy way to vent our feelings. In a matter of seconds, your comments may also be shared on Facebook; your tweets re-tweeted or your emails or texts received and forwarded. Beware that using social media, email or text to vent during a family law matter is definitely a perilous thing to do.

Can social media be used in a family law matter?

Guiding Principle

The guiding principle is fairly simple. You should not use social media, email or any form of messaging to discuss or comment upon your family law matter or anything or anyone involved in your family law matter. You should especially avoid comments relating to your former partner’s behaviour or requirements concerning your family law matter; your children in relation to your separation; anything or anyone related to a family law action or comments on any other subject relating to negotiations or agreements to be entered into with your former partner.

If you do this, you risk prejudicing or at least complicating your own case. Even where you are not in Court, these entries, emails or texts may prejudice any claims that you are making for property settlement or damage your claim for arrangements that you seek for your children by revealing information that may undermine your case. Those entries may also lead your former partner or his or her solicitors to make enquiry about matters that would not otherwise have come to their attention but for the communications that you may have made.
If you are in Court, you may well find that your social media entries or emails or texts are reproduced in your former partner’s affidavits to your detriment.
You may also be committing an indictable offence under section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).

Prejudice to your case/Live Examples

Imagine for example that you are claiming that you are available to care for your children and are therefore seeking that they spend time with you for five nights every fortnight. An entry that you made on facebook some time previous however refers to your plans to work interstate on a fly in fly out basis. It may be that those plans have been aborted or it may be that your fly in fly out arrangements do not interfere with the care arrangements that you are seeking for your children. Either way, production of that facebook entry by your former partner or his or her lawyers may well complicate your claim.

Another example would be facebook posts or tweets that refer to your recent overseas travel at a time when you are claiming spousal maintenance from your former partner. You are entitled to enjoy a holiday. It may even be that the particular holiday was done on a close budget. However, whilst you must disclose details of your financial circumstances, facebook entries of this kind in the hands of your former partner or his or her solicitors may again complicate your claim, possibly raising the spectre that you may not have the required financial need for spousal maintenance or causing your former partner or his or her solicitors to make enquiry requiring further disclosure of any other funds that may be available to you.

Risk of breach of Family Law Act and possible prejudice to claims you are making

Comments that you may make through social media, email or messaging, for example, sharing a post on facebook or instagram or tweeting, may involve a breach of section 121 of the Family Law Act punishable on conviction by imprisonment for a period of up to one year. There may be a breach of that section where those comments identify any parties; related persons (such as children; an Independent Children’s Lawyer of Family Report Writers) or witnesses to proceedings before the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. You should be aware that your former partner and his or her lawyers may be looking at your facebook entries. This will be a risk even where you have strong privacy settings or you have set up restricted groups to share information.

The safest policy

…is to avoid using social media during your family law matter and not to make any comment about it; your former partner or any other person connected to your family law matter in any emails or messages that you may send.

If you need advice or want to learn more, contact us today and receive a free 15 minute consultation.

Court Hearing

Tips for Appearing in Family Courts

Preparing for a family court hearing? It can be a stressful and emotionally-fulled time in the lead up to a court hearing. However, it’s important to know what to expect and how to prepare for your court hearing in order to achieve the best outcome.

Court Hearing

Preparing for a court hearing in family law.

This article is intended to help you whether you are representing yourself in a court hearing or are going to have legal representation. We have set out below some of the things that you should do preparing for Court as well as things to do and things to avoid in the courtroom.

Be Prepared

You will need to be sure that you have prepared and filed with the Court within the required time all of the documents that are required for your next hearing. If you are self representing, it will help you to find what you need when you are before the Court if your files are organised and clearly marked. Make sure too that you have a pen and note pad with you. If you have not been in a court before, it can help put you at your ease if you sit in a courtroom before your hearing so that you can see the court layout and understand something of the court process. Most court hearings are heard in open court so that you are permitted to enter the court.

What to wear in Court

The court is a formal place so you should dress accordingly. If you are a man, this does not mean having to wear a suit but long trousers, a shirt and appropriate shoes are a good idea. For women, a neat dress or long pants and shirt would be appropriate to wear.

Make other arrangements for your children

You should make arrangements for your children’s care for the day when you come to court. Court is not generally an appropriate place for children.

However, if as a result of a Court Order, your child needs to attend court to speak to a family consultant or judicial officer, you should check with court staff or through your solicitors in advance whether any child-care arrangements need to be made for the day.

Family and friends

You may wish to bring an adult family member or adult friend with you on the day in Court for support. There may be quite a bit of time that day spent waiting for your case to be called before the Judge or Registrar so it can be helpful to have some company. However, you should know that it is only your solicitors or if you are self represented, you, who may speak on your behalf in Court unless Court approval is obtained.

Arrive Early

We suggest that you arrive at Court at least 30 minutes before the time set down for the hearing and once there, locate the Court where your case will be heard.

There is generally a duty lawyer available (if you are eligible for assistance) to assist you on the day of your court hearing but you should be aware that their time is limited.

Inside the courtroom

The court officer or associate will generally appear outside the courtroom some time before the time that your case is set down for hearing. If you are self representing, before you enter the courtroom, you should present yourself to the court officer or associate and give them your name and let them know that you are self representing. If you have solicitors acting for you, they will inform the court officer or associate of your presence.

Once inside the courtroom, you will have to wait for your case to be called as there may be a number of cases listed on the same day. During this time, you should avoid talking whilst the Court is in session. You will need to stand each time that the Court commences or adjourns. The court officer or associate will signal the appropriate time to stand by saying ‘All rise’ or ‘Please stand’.

When your case is called and addressing the Court

When you hear the court officer or associate call your case, you should stand and sit in the place where your solicitors indicate behind them at the bar table.

If you are self representing, you should walk to the bar table as the court officer or associate directs. You will need to take your files and paperwork with you but be careful not to put any bags or cases on the bar table.

If you are self representing, you should stand whilst you and the other parties announce themselves. You announce yourself by stating your name and whether you are the applicant or respondent.
In the Family Court, either a judge or registrar will hear your case. In the Federal Circuit Court, a judge or for divorce hearings, a registrar, will hear your case. You should address a judge as ‘Your Honour’ and a registrar as ‘Registrar’.

Where you are self representing, you should stand each time that you are speaking or being spoken to in Court unless the Court directs you otherwise. You should be careful to speak clearly and politely and not to address any person other than the judge or registrar. You should not raise your voice and your face should be impartial no matter that the other party or his or her Counsel may make comments with which you do not agree.

When Orders are made and leaving the courtroom

The judicial officer will state the orders that are made and reasons given. Those orders will not be issued in hard copy until some time after the hearing so it is important if you are self representing that you write them down when they are being announced as well as reasons given. If you miss hearing part of the orders or are uncertain as to what was said, whilst you are still at the bar table, you should ask for the orders to be repeated once the judicial officer has finished speaking. If you do not understand any of the orders, you should ask the judicial officer to explain their meaning.
If a decision is reserved or held over for another time or date, you must attend court when the decision is handed down.

The Orders made will generally state the time and date for the next hearing if your case is ongoing. Once orders on a particular day are made, you can leave the bar table and the courtroom. If the Court is still in session after your matter is heard, as you leave the courtroom (and any time that you enter or leave the courtroom when the Court is in session), you should pause briefly at the door briefly and nod to the judicial officer. If your case is the last to be heard on the day, you should stand at the bar table while the judicial officer leaves the bench.

Personal Safety

If you have any worries about your safety, you should let the Court know at least two days in advance of any court date. The Court can assist with your safety when attending court. You can inform the Court by calling 1300 352 000 and speak with a Client Service Officer who will decide what arrangements are needed for your safety at Court. You must tell the Court in advance if there is a current family violence or protection order.
If you have concerns about your safety outside the Court or any questions about family violence, you should contact the police or seek legal advice about obtaining a Protection order.

If you’re looking for legal representation in a family court hearing or would like some legal advice, our family lawyers are happy to help. We even offer free 15 minute consultations over the phone.

Child Custody

Child Custody | A child’s view and how the court knows that view

Involved in a child custody matter or considering starting an application? You may be wondering what a court will take into consideration when deciding who the child will live with.

The primary concern of the court, is the well-being of the child. The court looks to maintain the child’s relationship with both parents where possible, but it’s main focus is on the safety of the child physically and mentally. In determining this in a child custody matter, the court will look to assess and consider, what the child’s view is. How does the court know what a child’s view is in a child custody or parenting matter? Read on to find out.

Child Custody

Child Custody matters

The Court may inform itself of views expressed by a child by:

  1. considering the contents of a report by a family consultant. A family consultant who is directed to give the Court a report on a matter relevant to proceedings is required to ascertain the views of the child regarding that matter  and include the views of the child on that matter in the family report (unless this would be inappropriate because of the child’s age or maturity or some other special circumstance);
  2. making an order for an independent children’s lawyer (ICL) to be appointed for a child. One of the duties of an independent children’s lawyer is to ensure that any views expressed by the child in relation to matters before the Court, such as arrangements for where the child lives, are fully put before the Court; or
  3. by such other means as the Court considers appropriate.  This may include consideration by the Court of  a family report obtained upon the joint instructions of both parties to the Court action.

However, neither the Court nor any other person (whether a family consultant, ICL or otherwise) may require a child to express his or her view regards where he or she wishes to live or regards any other matter.  It may be important for a child to understand this, particularly if the child is feeling very conflicted at the prospect of expressing an opinion favouring any parent.

 If you would like to learn more about child custody, click here. Or, to get tailored legal advice, call our experienced team of family lawyers today.
Brisbane Family Lawyers

Can children choose where they live? Our Brisbane Family Lawyers explain.

Whether you’re a parent or a child in a parenting matter, you may be wondering, can a child choose where they live? It’s important to have an understanding of how the court will decide where a child lives and what factors they will take into consideration. Our Brisbane Family Lawyers explain what happens in the court process to determine this.

Brisbane Family Lawyers

Brisbane Family Lawyers

The Court must consider any views given by a child as to where he or she wishes to live. This is taken into account as well as other considerations so that the Court may determine what is in the best interests of the child. The Court must also consider others factors, such as the child’s maturity or level of understanding,  that the Court thinks relevant to determine what weight the Court should attach to any view given by a child. For example, the Court would take into account any evidence of a child having been influenced in his or her view by a particular parent or other family members. The Court takes a dim view of any attempt by a parent to influence a child to say that he or she wants to live with one parent or primarily with one parent in preference to another. Absent evidence of influence upon a child, the view then of a fourteen year old as to where he or she wants to live would generally be expected to carry more weight than a similar view expressed by a four year old. However, the view of even a mature older child may not be definitive of the matter. There are other considerations to also be taken into account which may also effect the outcome, for example, the views of each parent and the practical difficulty and expenses of a child spending time with a parent.

For more information on child custody, click here. Or, give our experienced Brisbane Family Lawyers a call today to receive tailored legal advice. We offer free 15 minute consultations over the phone to help answer some of your initial questions you may have regarding family law.

Queensland Family Law

Queensland Family Reports and how to deal with them

Wondering what happens in a Queensland Family Law Report? For a parent, a family report may cause considerable anxiety or relief depending upon the recommendations that are made for children’s living arrangements. Find out from our Queensland Family Law Team the process of a family report, and how to deal with them.

Queensland Family Law

Queensland Family Law Team

This article looks at Queensland family law reports; the degree of their importance in any legal action where a party seeks Orders concerning children and whether there may be scope to challenge recommendations made by a family report writer.

At LGM Family Law, unless there are particular reasons not to do so, we will recommend to our clients that every effort is made to negotiate an agreement with the former partner about children’s living arrangements, without going to Court.

However, if agreement cannot be reached and it is necessary that a Court action is instituted, it is important to realise that it is very likely as part of that legal action that the Court will make interim Orders for a family report to be delivered by a family report writer.

The Queensland family law report writer may be appointed by the Court or may be a private report writer jointly instructed by you and your former partner.

The report writer will interview you and your former partner separately and will also see the children. He or she will likely also want to observe each parent in company with the children.

Depending upon how your action develops, it may be that there are a few family reports delivered before you reach any trial or agree Orders with your former partner and finally settle the legal action.

The report delivered by the report writer forms an important piece of evidence at any trial of your matter.

You can expect that the report will include recommendations to the Court as to the time that the children spend with each parent.  Other recommendations may relate to the number of phone calls that a parent may make to the children whilst they are in the care of the other parent.

Some reports will make general recommendations, for example, for  the children to spend three to five nights per fortnight with the parent who does not have primary care and for that parent to be entitled to make phone calls at least once every second day to the children when they are in the care of the parent with primary care.

Other reports will include much more specific recommendations, by way of example only, that the children spend four nights per fortnight with the parent who does not have primary care, even specifying the actual days on which those four nights occur in each fortnight as well as the specific days and time of day on which a parent may make phone calls to the children.

Depending upon the kind of recommendations made in a report concerning your children, as a parent, you may feel positive about the report or its recommendations may cause real despair.

However, it is important to appreciate that a family report, whilst often of real assistance to a trial judge and often a large piece of the evidence, is still only one piece of the evidence before the Court. It is always for the trial judge to determine what the children’s living arrangements will be, after the judge has assessed all of the evidence before the Court.

Whether you like the Queensland family law report writer’s recommendations for your children or not, you may miss important opportunities to properly prepare for a trial if you or your lawyers focus solely on the content of those recommendations and assume that those recommendations will be accepted by the trial judge. It will be very important, for example, that your lawyers carefully consider whether or not the recommendations made by the report writer are supported by the facts and fall within the area of the report writer’s specialised knowledge.

The trial judge will consider all of the evidence, including the family report, and assesses what weight or importance he or she will give each piece of evidence.  As part of this process, the judge sees the cross examination of parties and other witnesses who may include the family report writer. If your lawyers wish to do so, they may arrange for the report writer to be called to attend at the trial to answer questions about the report writer’s recommendations and the basis upon which he or she made those recommendations.

Many family reports are well written, including details of the family report writer’s area of expertise and the facts and/or academic research upon which the report writer has based his or her recommendations for your children.

Generally at law, evidence of an opinion is not admissible and will not be allowed by a Court to prove a fact about which the opinion was expressed. However, that rule does not apply to opinions of an expert where the opinion is based wholly or substantially on that expert’s specialised knowledge.

Important case law in this area has set out in detail what are the requirements to be met for expert opinion evidence to be admissible (ie., broadly, for it to be allowed to be considered by the judge).

The basic principle is that the opinions given by a family report writer must be based upon facts.

The family report writer must have an agreed or demonstrated field of “specialised knowledge”. It  must be demonstrated that the report writer has become an expert in an identified aspect of that field. His or her opinions or recommendations included in the family report must be wholly or substantially based upon that expert knowledge. If they are not, there may be grounds upon which a party may attack the validity of a family report or aspects of it.

Family report writers fall within the broad area of social sciences, an academic discipline which does not necessarily admit of one right answer. It is an area where different experts may vary greatly in their individual assessment about the same set of facts.  It is for this reason that it may be appropriate for your lawyers to consider questioning a family report writer about very specific recommendations;  for example, recommendations that children spend 4 but not 5 nights with one parent or attend one  particular school but not another or receive phone calls from a parent only on specific days of a week.

If a report writer reaches an opinion based upon facts which he or she has “observed” during interviews with the family, the report writer must identify those facts which must be proven.

If the report writer’s opinion is based upon “assumed” or “accepted” facts (such as research), those facts must be identified by the report writer and be proven in some other way. The report writer is required to refer to research and literature on which he or she has relied in reaching opinions concerning your children as well as setting out any that they have considered but not accepted or given lesser priority. These considerations of the report writer are another area where your lawyers may consider it appropriate to question or cross examine the report writer about his or her reasoning processes in making the recommendations in a family report.

If a report is not favourable to your case, your lawyers should also give careful consideration to what parts of the report may be challenged on the ground that opinions or recommendations expressed by the report writer are not supported by facts in a form which is admissible (ie., in a form which may be considered by the Court).

In summary, it will be important that your lawyers carefully assess whether or not any recommendations made by a family report writer are properly supported. Even if those recommendations support your case, you need to know what if any weaknesses there may be in the report. Your former partner may try to rely upon any such weaknesses in order to challenge any or all of the recommendations made. You will want then to shore up any of those weaknesses to the extent that you can do so to more fully support your case.  For example, further affidavit material may be necessary in order to evidence facts upon which you rely.

A knowledge of the relative strengths or weaknesses of a family report will also allow your lawyers to make an assessment of the likelihood or otherwise of recommendations in the report being accepted by a trial judge. That assessment and the consideration of other evidence before the Court will assist you in determining whether the likely outcome at a trial warrants continuing to trial or whether it will be better that you compromise and settle with your former partner, thereby avoiding  a trial.

For more information about our services, click hereOr, to get tailored legal advice, contact our Queensland Family Law Team today and receive a free 15 minute consultation.