my husband & I are currently involved in ongoing proceedings regarding my step-daughter. His ex has ''messed around'' throuhgout the whole thing. CAFCASS wanted an extension to file thier report (as officer went on holiday) but judge said no, file an interim report due to urgency in the matters (ex moving without notice as directed etc)
We had a contested hearing listed but our solicitor called yesterday saying it had been taken off the listings for that day and she could not find out a reason (she was fuming but the court clerk couldnt find a reason).
Has anyone ever heard of this happening? it doesnt seem to have been adjourned just de-listed, and they so far havent told us why! Solicitor speculates it could be CAFCASS though.
Clerical errors can occur, particularly when a judge or a court room is double-booked.
The court listing officer should be able to shed some light on the matter but it is likely that they won''t speak to a party who is represented by a solicitor, preferring to communicate with the solicitor direct.
Thank you guys. Our solicitor e-mailed the court again with a list of reasons why the original judge wanted it listed asap.
The court replied with basicly the CAFCASS report is nessesary and it has been passed back to the original court. (It was listed in another court not too far away, I guess because they could list it sooner) so now we just have to wait I guess (again!).
And they say that delays are not in the child''s interests eh?
In defence of CAFCASS, the resources with which they are provided are shockingly few. Many CAFCASS officers have left the profession due to stress or disenchantment.
Unfortunately the lack of resources frequently leads to delays due to missed hearings which are relisted weeks or months later.
Infrequently a Judge will ''put his boot through it'' and demand action such as ordering that the CAFCASS officer attend at court to explain the delay. This usually has the desired effect but it is hardly ideal.
Unfairness arises as altering the status quo does adversely affect children so a break in contact can be increased by court proceedings but a reversal of the position causes more upheaval which the court is wary of i.e. reinstating contact at a much lower level than prior to its cessation.
As an extreme example of a case where delay almost caused the unthinkable:
I was involved with a case where Social Services accused the mother of failing to protect her child (a baby) from being sexually assaulted. To cut a long story short the child was freed for adoption and the mother declared an unfit mother. Those proceedings took around 12 months and the mother saw very little of the child 2 months old until 14 months old.
Shortly after the child was freed for adoption, the medical evidence proving the sexual assault was debunked and the adoption order was appealed.
Shockingly the appeal was dismissed as the child had been freed for adoption and it was deemed ''not in the child''s interests'' to reverse the order due to the delay.
Happily the matter escalated to the Court of Appeal and was successful - but only due to the fact that the child remained with the foster carers as the local authority had failed to gets its act together.
Even though there was no sexual assault, the mother had not failed to protect the child from ''risky adults'' as Social Services put it and the mother had cooperated throughout - the child almost grew up without its natural mother.
Whilst the outcome of the case was happy, it caused all sorts of long lasting difficulties and cost the tax payer around £1M.
The court process and CAFCASS don''t have a lot to work with and the matter will only get worse from here on in I''m afraid.