CAFCASS- What is their role?

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The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is a public body set up to promote the welfare of children and families involved in family court. CAFCASS is independent of Children’s Services.

CAFCASS become involved either:

  • When parents disagree about arrangements for their children or
  • When Children’s Services begin care & supervision proceedings;

This blog will focus on CAFCASS’s role when parents separate and disagree about the arrangements for their children.

Every court application between parents is sent to CAFCASS in order for CAFCASS to do initial safeguarding enquiries.  This means CAFCASS will speak with police and Children’s Services. In addition, CAFCASS will try to speak to both parents by telephone before the first hearing.

Parents will be asked if they have any concerns  & it is important that parents raise any safeguarding concerns during this interview.  The outcome of the exercise is then sent by CAFCASS to the court in the form of a Safeguarding letter.

CAFCASS can help the Court reach a decision in the following ways:

  • A CAFCASS officer can speak to the children and submit to the court a ‘wishes and feelings report’ – however, this usually only applies for children over 10 years of age.
  • In very serious cases, CAFCASS may be asked to represent the child by being appointed as the children's guardian. This situation only arises if both parents are unable to represent the child's best interests and there are serious issues to resolve.

If you’re involved in a case about children and preparing to speak to a CAFCASS officer, please give us a call. If you’re not sure what to ask for at your first hearing, make an appointment to see one of the family team for initial advice and/ or representation.

For more information on CAFCASS please contact our Head of Department, Kirsty Richards, on Kirsty.richards@nationallegalservice.co.uk