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What is a Child Impact Report?

Thursday 14th of April 2022
By: Lauren Dunning, Senior Associate, Coote Family Lawyers

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I have been ordered to attend a Child Impact Report.  What is it and what can I expect?

If you are asking this question it is highly likely that the parenting arrangements for your children are already the subject of Court proceedings or you may just be interested to know the process if your matter proceeds to Court.

A Child Impact Report is ordered by a Registrar or Judge and is generally ordered at a relatively early stage of court proceedings.

A Child Impact Report is prepared by a Court Child Expert who works in the Court Children’s Service. Court Child Experts are qualified psychologists or social workers who have specialist knowledge in child and family issues after separation and divorce. They conduct assessments and prepare reports that have been ordered by the Court

The purpose of a Child Impact Report is to provide information about the experiences and needs of your children and considers a range of issues including:

  • Your child’s development;
  • Your child’s relationships; and
  • Presence of risk factors (such as family violence).

The Child Impact Reports focus on the impact these types of issues have upon children and parenting.

When preparing the Report, the Court Child Expert will have access to all documents filed with the Court by both parties and will read documents as directed by the Court. The Court Child Expert will not read any subpoenaed documents unless it has been specifically ordered, however they are often ordered to do so at the request of one or both parties.

The Assessment Process

To prepare the report the Court Child Expert will conduct an assessment of you, the children and any other relevant parties. The assessment is conducted at no cost to either party.

The Child Impact Report assessment is conducted in two parts as follows:

Parent Meeting

The Court Child Expert meets separately with each parent either via Microsoft Teams or in person.

During the meeting they will:

  • Ask questions about the children;
  • Identify family violence and any other risk issues which might impact on the children;
  • Make enquiries regarding any risk issues alleged in the court documents or that arise as a result of the meeting with the parents;
  • Discuss with you parenting after separation and your relationship with the other party;
  • Make enquiries about any other issues relevant to the care and welfare of the child and that may assist in determining what is in the child’s best interests regarding their living arrangements and time with each parent.

Child Meeting

Depending on the age and development of your children, the Court Child Expert will meet with your children on a separate day. In most cases this meeting is conducted in person.

If there is more than one child, the Court Child Expert may meet with them together and separately. The Court Child Expert may sometimes observe the children with each parent. The children are given an opportunity to talk about their feelings and experiences of the family situation.

Any information you or your children provide to the Court Child Expert is not confidential. All information gathered by the Court Child Expert is admissible in court and can become evidence in your case.

The Report

After the assessments the Court Child Expert will complete their report and file it with the Court directly. The Judge or Registrar managing your case will then formally release the report to your lawyer (or you, if you don’t have a lawyer). A copy will also be given to the Independent Children’s Lawyer if one has been appointed.

Once a report is released it is considered to be part of the formal evidence in your case.

A Child Impact Report helps the Registrar or Judge to understand what is happening for your children, and assists them in making decisions about how your case should be managed. Information about your children's experiences can also help you and the other party to better understand how separation and other family changes affect your children and help to inform your decisions moving forward.

If you have been ordered to attend a Child Impact Report and require assistance in preparing for the report, or you have received a report and would like advice about the next steps, please contact our team of family law specialists on 03 9804 0035. 

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