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Reduce need and cost for expert reports – review
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13 Jun 2024 / family law Print

Reduce need and cost for expert reports – review

The review of the role of expert reports in the family law process has now been published, and examines  their commissioning, availability, content and use.

The review, which is part of a move towards more child-focused family law process, calls for the establishment of the role of Children’s Court Advocate, with a professional diploma qualification for this role.

In private family law cases, expert welfare or voice of the child reports may be ordered by the court. The report wants cost controls developed for expert reports.

It also wants the establishment of a panel of assessors to minimise the risk of “expert shopping”.


Justice minister Helen McEntee said that there were issues with the commissioning and cost of these reports, as well as the availability and regulation of assessors and the need for reform is in no doubt.

A long-term goal of the report is a state-funded body tasked with providing welfare reports. It also calls for increased social welfare course places.

The report recommends: 

  • Guidelines on the commissioning, content and use of expert reports,
  • Panel of assessors be established with a structure to oversee its management,
  • Public funding for welfare reports, and in the short term, voice of the child reports,
  • New role of Children’s Court Advocate to assist children in having their voice heard in family law proceedings,
  • More pre-court family supports including ‘parenting when separated’ courses, parenting plans and mediation, to reduce the overall demand for expert reports.

Work on guidelines for the commissioning, content and use of expert reports will start later this year.

The preparatory work on establishing a panel of assessors is expected to commence in the first half of 2025.

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