On 30 September 2020 the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia published a new fact sheet to assist teenagers prepare for interviews with Family Consultants in proceedings between their parents. Children are interviewed so that their views are considered in the dispute between their parents. The judge wants to know what the teenage child is thinking, and for the child to have a voice when it comes time to making a decision about the dispute.
The fact sheet explains that family consultants are psychologists and social workers. They will meet with the teenager and answer any questions the teenager might have about the meeting, the court process; talk with them about their family and listen to their concerns, views and ideas. The teenager is not obliged to say anything to the family consultant if they do not wish to.
After meeting with the teenager, their parents, and siblings, the family consultant will write a report for the parents and the Judge, which the teenager will not see. The teenager’s views will be communicated to the parents and the judge through the report, and sometimes will assist the parents resolve the dispute without a judicial determination.
The pamphlet explains that the “judge’s job is to make decisions that are best for children. Sometimes this will be the same as what children want BUT sometimes it isn’t… Their job is to make a decision that is in your best interests for the long term.”
Such Factsheets assist all users of the family courts’ services, and are readily available on the Internet.