The Law

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Welfare Reports

If agreement cannot be reached by the parents, the Court will ask for a welfare report or assessment.

A Jersey Child Care Officer is the person, employed by Health and Social Services, who is assigned randomly to prepare the welfare report requested by the Court. They will be your contact during this process. The Guernsey Family Court Advisors are appointed to report independently on the assessments by all the agencies involved.

A Court Welfare Officer or Guernsey Family Court Advisor is the person who is responsible for attending the Court hearings, assisting in Court and presenting the welfare report, assessments and addressing the Court with its recommendations.

In order to avoid any potential biasness, the Child Care Officer must be a different person to the Court Welfare Officer or Guernsey Family Court Advisor. If you believe that they are the same when you attend Court, you or your lawyer must say immediately.

You will be written to by the Child Care Officer appointed to complete the report. They will invite you to an initial meeting, initially on your own. There are no welfare reports completed in Guernsey. Instead, the Family Court Advisor reports independently and comments on the assessments of all the agencies involved.

You will be required to attend various meetings over the course of the next six to eight weeks. The Child Care Officer will want to build a picture of you, your family and the circumstances leading to your present situation so be prepared for some very personal questions, some of which may seen irrelevant. You will be asked about your childhood, your up-bringing, your relationship with the children's Mum and, of course, your relationship with, and wishes for, your children.

It may be suggested that you attend one meeting jointly with your children's Mum. You have the right to say no but we would recommend that you agree. This will show that you are prepared to communicate with her for the benefit of the children.

As well as meeting with both parents, the Child Care Officer will also want to talk to other people who can provide information about you and the children. These may include other family members, teachers, doctors and social workers. They will also observe both parents with the children, usually in their homes and talk to the children alone. It is preferable that this is not at their school, one of the few places where there is no change as a result of a separation and divorce and where they can continue to feel happy and secure.

During meetings with your Child Care Officer, stay calm and polite, explain clearly your wishes and answer all their questions honestly. Don't be embarrassed or ashamed if you feel emotional. You are entitled to express your feelings towards your children without fear of mis-interpretation and challenge or question any recommendations made by the Child Care Officer.

Remember that you can ask the Child Care Officer for advice on any matter relating to the children and we recommend that you listen to any that is offered.

When the report is complete, and before the final hearing, a copy will be sent to your lawyer. This is the point at which you will be aware of the Child Care Officer's recommendations as your lawyer will arrange for you to read it in their office. You are not able to copy it or take it away. Your lawyer will let you know the date of the final hearing which you will be required to attend.

If a lawyer is representing you, and you are present in the Court, you are not allowed to say anything. Whether you represent yourself, or not, it may be that some, or all, of the recommendations will not be to your liking or your agreement. You are able to appeal, and more likely to be listened to, if you remain calm. Ask your lawyer for further advice.

Some of the procedures described and the terms used may be different depending on whether you live in Jersey, Guernsey or one of the other Islands. Contact us for further help and advice.

Separation & Divorce

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The Law

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