independent expert in the family court - children's matters
a single expert report is an independent report prepared by an expert such as a medical practitioner, a psychologist or a psychiatrist based on mutual consent of both parties to secure the services of the expert.
The report would be based on materials supplied by both parties, interviews with the parties and their children as well other relevant persons willing to be interviewed. A Single Expert Report is expected to contain expert opinion on the issues related to the property or parenting case. Either party can ask the court for an order to appoint a Single Expert to prepare a Single Expert Report for all parties.
Family consultants are trained social workers and psychologists employed by the court to help the court inform itself of the child’s best interests related to the case such as the child’s care, welfare and developmental needs. They author the Family Consultant Report.
Family consultants are experts but are not called as experts in the Family Court because the legal basis for admitting the Family Consultant Report into evidence is not due to their giving expert opinion under the general law of evidence but instead because the legislation specifically provides for the report to be admitted into evidence.
What is the purpose of hiring a Single Expert?
A single expert will reduce the use of experts called by each party and will save time and reduce costs for everyone. A single expert will be able to give expert opinion for both parties. The fees of the single expert are shared by both parties.
However, a Family Consultant Report may be preferred by the court because there is no fee involved for both parties and because the significance of specific issues have not yet been determined. Single Expert Reports are often only required when there is a need to provide evidence for significant issues of the case or when all parties have agreed to hire their services. There are also cases when a Single Expert Report will be required after the Family Consultant Report has been produced.
What will the Single Expert do?
The Single Expert will read the affidavits and other material, interview family members, observe their interactions with parents and sibling and interview other significant people related to the case. The Single Expert might even assess the mental health of an individual.
A Single Expert Report usually begins with a statement of its purpose and will include the qualifications of the expert. It will also include the material that the expert had considered such as affidavits and interviews. The Single Expert will also give his expert opinion on specific issues of the case.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.