Hi. In a real mess between children and finances; the judge ordered section 7 report. My first hearing was combined with hearing for anti molestation order and occupation order, therefore cafCASS was not notified about the case until after the hearing ( the hearing for all was granted 3 days from submitting the case including custody ). Now we have got full CAFCASS report with phone interviews and possibly other things. I have called police three times and made true accusations that in his sole custody he was under influence of alcohol when looked after children.
Can anyone help what I can expect from CAFCASS? Can I prepare somehow for it? What questions do they ask? Any help or indications will be truly appreciated.
There is no set format to CAFCASS reports so this is just general. The officer will carry out a criminal records check and write to for school, social workers and police if they are involved with the family for information about the children.
Parents are interviewed about the background of the case and children''s wishes and feelings ascertained. The reporter documents what they have been told, draws conclusions and makes recommendations as to the way forwards.
There is no set format to CAFCASS reports so this is just general.
The CAFCASS website has details of numerous templates that officers are meant to use. In CAFCASS''s own guidance, it is stated that "All CAFCASS reports to the court should follow the respective
A Schedule 2 report would cover interviews with the local authority, police and both the parties, and record and outline safety issues for the Court to consider, and report to the Court on the outcome of risk identification; they would not contact the child/children for the purposes of this report.
There are templates guiding S7 reports, and would cover aspects such as:
Child(ren)’s Current Living Arrangements
Details of the Parties to the Proceedings
Application before the Court and Current Court Orders
Interviews of adults (these can be done via the phone or in person at the party''s home), this would include interviews with the children
Existing arrangements for residence and contact
The child’s wishes and feelings. Dependent on the child’s age and
understanding, this could include child’s own words where appropriate.
Description/analysis of the dispute (as it affects the child)
Other relevant issues to bring to the court’s attention (such as
domestic violence, child abduction, disruption during contact, allegations of
abuse, referrals to Social Services, health, education, criminal conviction
Details of Significant other people (describe involvement), e.g. new partners,
grandparents, older siblings, etc. Other agency involvement.
I would keep your interview(s) and communication child-focused and tell the truth. If you have made allegations of alcohol abuse, then a hair strand test may be ordered. Try to focus on your own involvement with CAFCASS, rather than what he may or may not say, and read the Welfare Checklist, (s1, Children Act 1989) as this is what CafCass officers will be following this.
Children Act 1989
Welfare of the child.
(1)When a court determines any question with respect to—
(a)the upbringing of a child; or
(b)the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it,the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.
(2)In any proceedings in which any question with respect to the upbringing of a child arises, the court shall have regard to the general principle that any delay in determining the question is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child.
(3)In the circumstances mentioned in subsection (4), a court shall have regard in particular to—
(a)the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b)his physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c)the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
(d)his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
(e)any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f)how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
(g)the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.
(4)The circumstances are that—
(a)the court is considering whether to make, vary or discharge a section 8 order, and the making, variation or discharge of the order is opposed by any party to the proceedings; or
(b)the court is considering whether to make, vary or discharge [F1a special guardianship order or] an order under Part IV.
(5)Where a court is considering whether or not to make one or more orders under this Act with respect to a child, it shall not make the order or any of the orders unless it considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all.
In terms of preparation, I would put together all the evidence you have which may be relevant, such as the threats made, etc. Present yourself as a good, caring parent, with a good support network. Put some photographs in the room showing happy family moments, grandparents, your brothers and sisters and their families, etc.
The questions asked will be in line with the template outlined above, and CAFCASS officers can be quite mechanical in filling these out. They are poorly trained, not very bright and have pre-conceived ideas about things, so you have to get your point across quite forcibly. Remember, they''ve seen it all before. You really need to get them to sit up and listen to you and not just go through the motions.
Try to relax, be yourself, tell the truth, and offer them tea or coffee and biscuits.