5. What does a social welfare report do in assessing the provision of children's custody?
A social welfare report looks at all the circumstances relating to the child. This may include information on the child’s physical, social, and psychological well-being. As established in the case of FJ v DTD (unrep., FCMC 14138/2012，10th March 2020) at paragraph 34, a social welfare report acts as ‘the eyes and ears of the court’. It helps the court understand a child’s situation and lifestyle so that it can reach a decision about the upbringing of the child and what custody order should be made.
The social welfare officer investigates on the court’s behalf as to the arrangements for the children. This is done by interviewing the following people, and this is not intended to be an exhaustive list:
(1) the children themselves if they are of a sufficient age and/or maturity to participate in such an interview;
(2) the parents on their own;
(3) each parent with the children;
(4) any other carers, for example, new partners of the parents, relatives and the nanny;
(5) the children’s school teachers; and
(6) other relevant concerned parties who may be able to provide helpful information in assisting the court’s determination of the matter and the social welfare officer in making a recommendation to the court.