Family Court Expert Reports

Independent Expert for Family Court Reports provided by Heidi Smith and her team at Aresolution

With over 8 years experiences running a family dispute resolution business, child inclusive practice mediation and a team of psychologists Heidi Smith and her team can assist with your family court expert report requirements. Heidi Smith is experienced in preparing a wide range of psychological assessments including parenting capacity assessments for Family Court.

Heidi Smith and her team work together to provide sound psychological evaluations that can provide meaningful information to the Family Court to make decisions about the best interest of the child and how to share care.

The focus of the evaluations on parenting capacity, the psychological and developmental needs of the child, and the resulting fit.

When families are fractured, the recommendations provided by a psychologist can help these families achieve positive relationships post-divorce by developing parenting plans that allow children to have positive and meaningful relationships with their parents.

What type of issues are suitable for a Family Court expert report?

A resolution can assist with a wide range of complex issues – domestic violence, risk assessment and parental alienation. Our evaluation can address these complex issues in a reliable and valid manner.

We can assess parents’ attributes, the ability to be an effective parent, and the needs of the child and the specific terms of reference from the Family Court.

What will be assessed with the Family Court expert report?

We can assess the child (or children) to determine what their needs are developmentally, psychologically and cognitively to assess the type of parenting that is required. This information is corroborated in the developmental history, school and physician reports and through psychological testing.

We will also assess the effectiveness of the parenting for the child. We examine a parent’s capacity to provide empathy, structure, love and set limits on behaviour and have flexibility and good impulse control.

Once we have investigated the parent attributes, parenting capacity, the needs of the child and the terms of reference for the Family Court we will provide an opinion on what is in the best interest of the child in terms of residency and contact arrangements which will form the basis of the parenting plan.

The family court expert report will assess:
  • The parenting arrangement
  • Parenting capacity
  • How your child is coping
  • Your children’s relationship with significant others
  • Risk to the children
  • Your child’s views/wishes

Fees for Psychological Assessments for Family Court

Consultation and discussion about Family Court situations are charged at a legal rate of $230 per hour and GST applies if this is not related to therapy (face to face consultations are 50 minutes in duration).

The Psychologist will conduct a series of interviews over a few days and will meet with you, your ex partner and your child/ren and other relevant people such as siblings, partners or grandparents.

Assessments for the Family Court are generally charged an hourly rate, an estimation of the report costs can be provided verbally over the phone and a more detailed estimate is provided after the initial assessment has been completed.

The recommended fee for attendance at court is costed by the APS at 1.5 times the scheduled fee.

Please note that legal assessments attract GST charges as only treatment is GST exempt.

We recommend that you provide instructions from your solicitor, these are usually just a few bullet points but ensure that the report is meaningful and focused.


The initial appointment with you and your child is 50 minutes. For most issues, follow up appointments are usually split between you and your child or you and your child together, this allows time for use to answer any questions you may have about their progress. If you have any questions please come into the appointment 15 minutes before the scheduled end time i.e., after 35 minutes so that these can be worked through. Our sessions are blocked as 50 minute appointments, the remainder of the session is to make notes, contact relevant people and prepare for your child’s next session, this ensures that our sessions start on the hour or half hour.

The length of therapy is quite variable, and the final decision regarding the length of therapy rests jointly with you
and your psychologist. Some children/teens stay for three sessions, while others are in counselling for two or three years or
more. Most children/teens need between 6 to 14 sessions to overcome general anxiety, depression or family issues.
Children with significant family concerns or more complex issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder or post-
traumatic stress disorder may require 20 or more sessions. For children/teens, this will depend on their age, the issues
presented and type of treatment used. For many concerns parents will also attend some sessions to get strategies to
help with your child.

In the beginning you will need see your therapist weekly to establish your therapy and build some traction. This takes a minimum of 3 sessions we recommend you book these in on your first appointment. After this, therapy needs to be paced according to your issues, the therapy style your therapist is using and even your financial considerations. Some people come fortnightly, others monthly.

For many young child clients including parents is an important part of the change process and you will be invited into
the last 15-20 minutes of the appointment regularly . If you would like an update about your child’s progress send
the psychologist an email requesting this so that they can arrange the appropriate forum, whether that is a pre-
booked and prepaid skype/phone session, additional face to face appointment or otherwise we often need time to
prepare a response if we have not already scheduled time with you during your child’s sessions.

Once you book an appointment its yours. We encourage you to keep your appointments to avoid delays in booking new ones and to speak with our team members about discontinuing therapy. If there is no way you can make it please call reception to reschedule.

If there is no way you can make a skype session and you need to change or cancel an appointment, please provide at least 48 hours notice otherwise there are cancellation fees.

All of our team members are registered psychologists so you are able to claim Medicare or Private Health Fund rebates (you can only claim one or the other per session). Medicare provides a rebate of either $84.80 or $124.50 back per session for up to 10 sessions per calendar year provided you have a Mental Health Plan drafted by your GP and a referral letter to any psychologist. After the initial 6 sessions you need to return to your GP for a review to access the final 4 for the calendar year. Private health rebates are available provided you have cover for psychology.

We offer appointments between the hours of 9 am and 7pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 2 pm on Saturday. Individual psychologist availability varies, please contact reception for more information.

When our clients are preschool-aged children, we generally only see them with a parent or guardian present and involved in the sessions, so parents are aware of all the information being shared. For older children, it is often beneficial for them to spend some time alone with their psychologist at some stage, but only if and when the child and family are comfortable with this.  If children spend some time in session alone with their psychologist, confidentiality also applies for them as clients, in that we would request their permission to share specific information they have shared with us, even with parents (though there are still the same exceptions, such as when there are concerns about risk of harm).

Our couch, Your private space

Our private and warmly appointed rooms in Applecross provide the perfect space for you to begin your journey of self-development and start taking control of leading a more fulfilling life. We are located near Applecross Village with a private rear entry, upstairs at the back of the building.

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