Family Law Expert Reports

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Acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris recently warned that expert reports for Family Law cases can be consistent and unregulated.  It is hoped to introduce regulation and over sight in respect of these reports, but what exactly are these reports?

From time to time in the Family Law Court system the voice of the child may need to be heard.  This is especially the case in cases involving access and custody where parents cannot agree with whom the child should live and what arrangements should be made in respect of child care.  A Judge can order a report.  These reports  are generally conducted by Clinical Psychologists, Forensic Psychologists, Social Care Workers,

Psychotherapists or indeed Family Therapists.  However, these reports are very persuasive in terms of an Order a Court might make as the report will make recommendations as to which parent has custody, access, form of access be it in person, supervised or telephone or otherwise.  Concerns have been raised about the lack of transparency about qualifications of the people who do the reports and the cost of the reports.  The cost of reports can run from anything from €1,500.00 to €10,000.00.  In the normal way the cost of these reports are borne on a 50/50 basis by both parties.  It is hoped that the review of these reports and authors of the reports will take place this year and recommendations will be made regarding the use of reports in the future.  This will be a valuable piece of work that will assist in the Family Law Courts in the future.