What is the role of Cafcass

If you are currently involved in a set of child act proceedings, then you may find Cafcass being appointed by the Court. You may be wondering what does Cafcass stand for and what is their role.

What does Cafcass stand for?

Many people want to know what does Cafcass stand for and who they are when you are making an application for a child arrangement order. Cafcass is Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Cafcass usually get involved in child proceedings once you or your former partner have submitted an application to the court.

What does Cafcass do?

The role of Cafcass is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children by considering their needs, wished and feeling in child cases. The court usually asks Cafcass advisors to work with families and advise the family court of the interests, needs, wishes and feelings of a child.

How does Cafcass become involved?

Cafcass can become involved in child act proceedings through a number of ways. One of which is to carry out initial safeguarding checks which results in a safeguarding letter being presented to the Court before the First Hearing Dispute Resolution.

In addition, Cafcass can be ordered to prepare a report on considering the wishes and feelings of the children as well as considering any issues between parents before setting out recommendations to the Court.

A Cafcass officer will meet with both parents individually and the child to gather information they require to complete the section 7 report. The report may include recommendations and information from other parties such as teachers, family members and health members.

What does Cafcass consider when preparing a section 7 report?

When the ordered by the court to prepare a Cafcass legal report, both Cafcass and the court must have regard to the welfare checklist.

The welfare checklist is a provision under the Section 1 of the Children Act 1989.  

When preparing a section 7 report Cafcass must use the welfare checklist and have consideration of:

All assets should be considered as a starting point which may include:

  • The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned
  • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs,
  • The likely effect of any change in circumstances of the child
  • The age, sex, background and any characteristics of the child which the court considers relevant
  • Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
  • The capability of each of the child’s parents and any other person whom the court considers the question of relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs.
  • The range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

The welfare checklists is used by the court as a framework to reach its decision. The wishes and feelings of a child are also considered before a decision is reached. The welfare checklist is therefore extremely important when considering where the child resides and the time the child spends with each parent.

If you wish to know more about and understand the welfare checklist prior to making any child application to court then contact our child law specialists who would be able to listen to your queries and assist you in ensuring you are best placed to know what to expect when Cafcass contact you to prepare their Cafcass legal report.

What happens once a section 7 report is prepared by Cafcass?

Once a section 7 report is prepared by Cafcass it will be disclosed to the court and often the parents will have a chance to review the report prior to the court hearing. The court will consider the report and listen to the parents and other people before making its final decision. The judge will also have regard for the wishes and feelings of the child.

Although the wishes and feelings of a child are taken into account, these may not necessarily be followed if they are not in the best interests of the child. Ultimately the decision is made by the court and placed in a court order which must be complied with. It is very rare for the judge going against Cafcass recommendation.

If you require assistance in reviewing the report or are concerned with the contents of the report then you need to urgently contact our child law specialists who will be able to review the reports and advise you on raising the issues with the judge at the hearing before a decision is made.

— Q&A SECTION —

At what age can Cafcass interview a child?

A common question when considering Cafcass is at what age can Cafcass interview a child. Cafcass can visit a child of almost any age in order to understand their needs, wishes and feelings. There is no guidance as to the recommended age in which Cafcass should speak to a child.

Is it common for a judge going against Cafcass recommendation?

It is rare for a judge going against Cafcass recommendation however, there is no obligation for a court to follow the recommendations of a Cafcass legal report. For a judge going against a Cafcass recommendation they must provide their reason for not following the recommendation. The decision for a judge going against Cafcass recommendation is of judicial discretion but it must state within the judgement the reason for departing from Cafcass recommendations. 

Speak to our Child Law Specialists today

Our child law specialists deal with cases involving children and can carefully advise and guide you through the process to help you secure the best possible report in favour of your position. If you are looking for advice or assistance call us today on 0330 094 5880 or arrange a call-back.  

Did you know we have family law experts in York as well as London and Manchester and also cover nationally across the Country.

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