In January 2019, CAFCASS (England) received 3,636 new private law cases, this is 3.6% higher than January 2018. Each year, the number of new cases that CAFCASS receives is increasing, this suggests that the Court is becoming more involved in private law children matters.
As the Court and subsequently, CAFCASS become more involved in private law children matters, we must ask, what is CAFCASS, and what does it do?
What is CAFCASS
Depending on where the children live, an officer from either CAFCASS or CAFCASS Cymru may be appointed by the Court. CAFCASS stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
CAFCASS officers represent children in the family Court, they consider the needs, wishes and feelings of the children, ensure that the children’s voices are heard and that any decisions made are in the best interests of the children. CAFCASS operates independently of the Courts, social services, education and health authorities.
Involvement in Private Law
If parents/family members are unable to resolve arrangements relating to the children, for example, with whom they should live or who they see, Court intervention may be necessary and an application should be made. See more on applications here: https://wendyhopkins.co.uk/services/children/
Once an application is made to the Court, CAFCASS become involved. CAFCASS will undertake initial safeguarding enquiries, this involves reviewing any relevant police and/or social services records and also conducting telephone interviews with the parties. CAFCASS will then provide a report to the Court and detail any risk that the Court should consider.
A CAFCASS Officer, also known as a Family Court Adviser will meet with the parties at the first hearing, they will discuss matters with the parties and attempt to explore opportunities for agreement. The CAFCASS officer helps to ensure that any agreement made is safe and in the best interests of the child/children involved.
If an agreement cannot be reached by the parties, or if there are issues in relation to safeguarding, the Court can ask CAFCASS to undertake a more detailed assessment. The CAFCASS officer will then write a report which is known as a Section 7 report. In order to prepare this report, the CAFCASS officer will meet with the parties and the child/children and assess various factors such as the wishes and feelings of the children and any risk posed to the children or issues raised by each party. The CAFCASS officer will prepare the report and provide recommendations, this will assist the Court in making a decision in relation to the arrangements for the child/children.
If you need any assistance in relation to resolving arrangements relating to your children, whether CAFCASS is already involved or not, contact us today to speak with one of our expert family lawyers.
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