Preparing for a Cafcass interview
- The purpose of the Cafcass interview
- Do you have a clear analysis of your case
- Control your emotions when speaking to the interviewing officer
- Ensure you advise Cafcass of how your relationship has been or is with the children
- Focus on covering all key points in your Cafcass interview
- Do not exaggerate
- Avoid criticising the other parent if possible during a cafcass interview
- Put your child first when providing information during a cafcass interview
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Preparing for a Cafcass interview is an important stage within child law proceedings where there is a dispute about which parent is to have custody of the children and whether one parent should have any contact with the children.
Cafcass will almost always undertake a safeguarding interview before the First Hearing Dispute Resolutions Appointment. Following this hearing the Court may direct either for Cafcass or the local authority to undertake a section 7 report.
Such a report involves Cafcass talking to your children alone as well as talking to you and the other parent to consider any concerns you both might have in relation to the child and each other.
Prior to completing a section 7 report, Cafcass will usually arrange for an interview with the parents to take place. This interview will involve Cafcass spending time with the parents to gather information on their parenting skills, assess whether there are any welfare and safeguarding concerns and ascertain the child’s wishes. Upon completion of the interviews with the parents and the children and, following the investigation, the Cafcass officer will provide a recommendation as to which parent the child should live with and how much contact, if any, the non-resident parent should have.
The purpose of the Cafcass interview
According to Cafcass the purpose of an interview prior to producing the section 7 report is to gather information relating to the children who are subject to the child proceedings. The information primarily relates to any concerns raised by either parent or risks to the children involved. So how should you prepare for a Cafcass interview and what should you do to ensure you effectively provide the information requested from you? Our family specialists have compiled helpful tips to assist you to prepare for your interview and steps on how to deal with your interview.
Do you have a clear analysis of your case
If you are currently engaged in a family lawyer then your experienced specialist would have no doubt have had an initial or a number of lengthy and detailed meetings with you about your case. During those meetings you would have been legal advice which has helped you structure a clear idea of where your proceedings are going based on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in accordance with the Children’s Act 1989.
If you do not have a clear idea of your case or want a second opinion rest assure you can arrange a free initial consultation to understand how our family lawyers can help you.
Control your emotions when speaking to the interviewing officer
Matters involving children can be sensitive and emotional. Try to keep your emotions aside remembering to speak calmly and clearly. If you feel you are getting emotional when providing your information or answering questions, ask the Cafcass interviewer for some time and have a glass of water to help calm your emotions and nerves. Remember remaining calm will help you better project key information during interview.
Ensure you advise Cafcass of how your relationship has been or is with the children
Parents during an interview can sometimes struggle to state the obvious. Cafcass will want to know what your relationship is like with your children or other children around you. You should therefore try to explain and inform of the things you and your children do together. Give examples of activities you carry out with your children, how you help them develop academically and learn about life. You need to illustrate and paint a picture of how your children will benefit by being around you. By ensuring you clearly explain this, you will be building foundations to ask for the arrangements you wish for. If you are no longer in contact with the child consider mentioning how you have been involved in the child’s life previously and how you have added value to the child’s care and what it means for them to remain without you.
Focus on covering all key points in your Cafcass interview
You do not want to regret forgetting to provide key information which you feel could be important in your child’s case. It may be helpful to carefully tick off and talk about the key issues and concerns during interview. Preparation is key and it is something that our family lawyers can help you with prior to your Cafcass interview. Try to avoid going off the subject and providing irrelevant information as this could risk Cafcass not understanding the key issues which will make the difference to your case.
Do not exaggerate
Ensure you provide only truthful and helpful information to Cafcass. Do not exaggerate whatsoever. You will need to remember Cafcass will be interviewing both parents and the children. If Cafcass believe you are exaggerating or providing inaccurate information, then this could paint a negative picture of you which in turn could be problematic and detrimental to your case. Ensure you remain truthful and provide factual information as the report will be considered in court and you could be cross examined at a later stage.
Avoid criticising the other parent if possible
Our family lawyers have noted that, quite often, a parent may begin criticising the other parent as a person. You are not being interviewed to criticise the other parent. Cafcass is not concerned with how the other parent has been towards you or what your relationship has been like with the other parent. It is important that you only provide information on the other parents parenting skills and ability to safe parent the children. Ultimately the aim of the interview is to assess how both parents are and to assess which parent would be more suitable to meet the child’s needs and welfare. If you have concerns about the parenting of the other parent then be sure to raise these, but do not talk about what the other parent has done to you or what caused the breakdown of the relationship unless it affects your child and their welfare.
Put your child first when providing information during a cafcass interview
The main tip to follow is to ensure whatever information or evidence you provide is for the benefit of your child. You should ensure you remain reasonable and are acting in the best interests of your child. Do not let personal differences between you as parents affect your thinking or how you act. The most important factor which both the courts and Cafcass consider are the welfare, safety and best interests of your child. As long as you act in your child’s best interests rather than to seek revenge or get one over the other parent, you should be able to carry out the interview in a manner which is likely to help your child law proceedings. No matter how acrimonious your relationship or separation has been do not let this get in the way of trying to reach the best possible outcome for your children.
A section 7 report is vital to private child law proceedings, where directed. The recommendations made by the Cafcass officer will usually be considered by the family court. The judge may even decide to implement the recommendations made by Cafcass in its order. You therefore need to ensure you are fully equipped and prepared to deal with your Cafcass interview.
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Is it only parents who will be assessed by Cafcass?
Cafcass will assess parents who are involved in child law proceedings. However, they can also assess other people who are looking to obtain custody or contact over a child. This includes grandparents and guardians who may be looking to get access or secure custody of children they are involved with.
Arrange a consultation today to secure help in advance of your Cafcass interview
Should you be facing a Cafcass interview or have any query in relation to a child law matter then contact one of our child law specialists at Kabir Family Law on 0330 094 5880 to arrange a free initial consultation to discuss your options or let us call you back. With family lawyers in Northampton as well as nationally we are proud to have the national strength to deal in family law.