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You may consult the Family Advocate if you have a dispute relating to either the best interests of a child and/or parental responsibilities and rights.
Other circumstances under which the family advocate may be consulted include:
If there is a dispute regarding the contact, guardianship or care (parental responsibilities and rights) of a minor child, the Office of the Family Advocate would be requested to investigate the welfare and best interest of the minor child involved.
Often, they provide a report which is handed to the relevant Court for consideration.
The Office of the Family Advocate is not employed by the parties involved. They work for the State ensuring that they are objective in their investigation and only have the child’s best interests at heart.
In a typical custody dispute, a Family Advocate and social worker would be appointed to a case and investigate it. The social worker and the Family Advocate would consult with the parents (or parties involved in the dispute), visit their homes if necessary and obtain information from relevant parties etc. The Family Advocate and social worker would also speak to the child and may want to observe the child's interaction with the parents. If there are other professionals, for example, a social worker or a psychologist who assessed the situation and provided a report, the Office of the Family Advocate would consider those documents as well and even consult with those experts before handing in their report.
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