Thank you to Joanna Toch of Family Law Cafe for her answer to this question about the involvement of Cafcass in Children’s Family Court Matters.
The original question and thread is in the Divorce Chatroom in the Forum.
Cafcass are always involved as they must prepare a safeguarding letter whenever an application is made. They do this by checking Social Services and and police records and having a telephone call with each party when they will ask if you have any safeguarding concerns.
This letter will be made available to the court and the parties before the first court hearing unless Cafcass take the view that to disclose it to either party is a safeguarding risk in itself when it just goes to the court.
An order cannot be made without the safeguarding letter, even if the parties are in agreement. So make sure you tell Cafcass when they call as to any concerns you have, eg about the “toxic trio” of drugs, drink and mental health and about domestic abuse.
A Cafcass officer should be available at the First Hearing and will help inform the court as to whether the court needs to order either a wishes and feelings report of the children or a full report or whether a report is needed at all. Not all cases have a report, some have the shorter wishes and feelings and some need the full report.
Cafcass stands for Child and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
If you are going to court, make sure you get the support you need as once you have had a hearing it is difficult to turn around what has happened. You can ask for a McKenzie friend to support you or have a lawyer. If you are on your own, have a note of the things you want to happen and the court needs to know.
You can contact Joanna Toch of Family Law Cafe