Family Consultants are psychologists, social workers or guidance counsellors appointed by the court or chosen by the parties to help in child and family cases. Family consultants are experts in the field of family law specializing in children and family issues that is why their services are sought by family courts.
The Family Law Act 1975 encourages parties to resolves their disputes without going to court. That is why for some family law cases the parties must first undergo a family dispute resolution before going to court. If the parties fail to come to an agreement during the family dispute resolution and the case reaches the court, a family dispute resolution certificate is then required before the court will entertain the case.
Family Consultants are usually tasked by the Court to prepare family reports. In cases where children are involved, family reports are one way of helping the court decide the best interest of the children. Courts are normally reluctant to involve children in court proceedings and generally they are not presented as witnesses. Family reports are a convenient way of knowing the children’s perspectives because it will be the Family Consultant who will talk to them. In making a family report the Family Consultant will be talking to the relevant members of the family, thereby enabling them to submit a complete report to the court.
In the family report the Family Consultant will be providing recommendations on how to resolve the dispute which the Court will be taking into consideration in making a decision. This is in accordance with the main function of a Family Consultant which is to assist the Court.
A Family Consultant can also help families resolve their dispute by acting as a mediator between the parties. With the help of a family consultant the parties can identify the issues in their dispute, talk about it and hopefully come to an agreement.