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Just Back From 1st Hearing - Who Polices CAFCASS?

  • PapasLove
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04 Mar 10 #190092 by PapasLove
Topic started by PapasLove
We've just come back from the 1st hearing.

My partner had a brilliant McKenzie friend with him but still had to endure 45 minutes alone with a horrendous CAFCASS officer and his not very nice ex.

My partner would like to see his son every other weekend and half the school holidays but the child is a member of 8 different clubs and his mum says therefore there is no time for him to see his dad.

The CAFCASS officer agreed with his ex (they actually work in the same field so had a girlie chat etc whilst my partner looked on) and said he should accept what his ex is offering, which is most Sundays for an hour or so around her house. CAFCASS wouldn't listen to my partner and when she did listen she dismissed what he was saying as irrelevant. She criticised him for bringing a McKenzie friend to court and requested that the McKenzie friend was not invited into the court room.

The upshot is, a CAFCASS report is to be done and our worry is that if it is this officer or another one in the "judiciary club", what on earth will happen? Can my partner make a complaint about this officer? If so, who to? If the CAFCASS report is loaded in his ex's favour, will the judge listen to reason?:(

Thank you for reading.

  • zonked
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05 Mar 10 #190152 by zonked
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See it this way; its better to be at the bottom of a hill climbing upwards than at the top tumbling to the ground.

This was the first hearing; the ex is going to be at the height of her power. No order is going to be made against her wishes; the court will give her the benefit of any doubt. Against this backdrop, your ptr got the best outcome possible.

He has managed to get his foot on the contact ladder. The first rung, many more to climb of course but its a start. CAFCASS are doing a S7 report, if the court were settled on following the ex's wishes this would not have been ordered, lets face it, any change to the status qou is beneficial to your ptr. The ex knows your ptr is serious about contact and is not going away, he is a reality she now has to deal with. All in all, not bad results.

CAFCASS appearing to favour your ex may have been their way of cajoling her into agreeing some form of interim contact? Anyway, the officer doing the report is often different from the one you see at court.

I suggest no matter how awful the CAFCASS officer is, you don't make a complaint. It will divert you from the main issues which are
1. Making the contact work well.

2. Getting a good CAFCASS report.

A good start would be googling the welfare checklist which outlines the way CAFCASS work. You definitely need to do some preparation for an interview and their home visit. Your MF could probably help you here as it can be tricky dealing with them.

Good luck

  • chris75
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05 Mar 10 #190158 by chris75
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Based on my observations i agree with Zonked. I think that you should be glad that at least your partner has his foot in the door and you can build on that to arrange a better and fairer outcome.

I sometimes wonder if the courts really care about the NRP and if they are not blinkered by prejudice in favour of the PWC and just want you to go away...

Very best wishes, Chris.

  • Ursa Major
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05 Mar 10 #190163 by Ursa Major
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How old is the lad? Has he always done this number of clubs, or has it stared recently?

I feel the Mother has started these clubs in order to make life difficult, however thare was a recent case in the paper wher the Judge felt that the mother was so manipulative about filling up the childs' time with after school clubs and therefore tacitly denying contact (presumably whilst crying - "Oh I wouldn't ever stop him seeing his Daddy, he is just so busy")that the Father was awarded residence, even though he hadn'e seen the child for years.

Wait until you see what the order has to say, get the status quo established and then build contact from there.

Why can't he go to one of his clubs from his Dad's, or go to Dad's for tea and sleep after Judo, or cricket or whatever and dad take him to school in the morning.

Dad also needs to develop his own relationship with his son's school, and doctor, Youth Leader or Rugby Coach and going along to these clubs, developing an interst in some of the things his son is doing and supporting him are all normal Dad things and help build a bond with his son.

Let us know how he gets on.

  • PapasLove
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05 Mar 10 #190165 by PapasLove
Reply from PapasLove
Thank you all for your responses.

I forgot to add that my daughter and I have been told we must go through police and Social Services checks before we can spend any time alone with my partners son. This was decided by his ex and CAFCASS yesterday.

Last night my partner called his son who said, and I quote "I hear you want to see me during my school holidays? Well I don't want that and what I say goes!" It was awful. My partner replied "I'm not going to discuss this with you son, I called to see how you are and how school was today"
I couldn't believe that a woman, a mother could be so cruel. That little boy is being poisoned by a bitter, selfish, I can't even call her human.

The child is 9 years old and over the past year has joined 4 new clubs which are all on the weekend and have coincided with my partners request for more contact. When we see him he always says "I want my clubs and you'd better not try to stop me, it's what I want!" This is all coming from his mum. However, we don't want to stop the clubs, just be able to pick him up and take him there without her being ever present.

We are hoping that she will allow the child to be picked up from his clubs etc but the chances are she will make a fuss. Hopefully we'll get a judge/CAFCASS report that doesn't see a problem with this.

Than you again.

  • Forseti
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05 Mar 10 #190178 by Forseti
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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

No one polices CAFCASS as such. Periodic reports are prepared on CAFCASS service areas by Ofsted; prior to 2008 they were done by HMICA.

Ofsted can only report, they have no power to intervene; they can't put CAFCASS on 'special measures'. To date all service areas have been found inadequate. No surprises there.

The reports are all available on the internet.

The notorious CAFCASS complaints system (there wasn't one for years) is hardly worth bothering with. You can only complain about purely factual errors (getting your address wrong); anything else must be brought up in court. If you do complain it's likely to antagonise your FCA (they won't be taken off the case) and the same FCA you complain about may even conduct the investigation. Many of them are freelance or from agencies, so CAFCASS has little control. Read the reports.

You have to trust the judge to see through the prejudices and incompetence, and I think most of them do.

They should also know all the tricks of the trade (like the clubs); they've seen all these stratagems before, but CAFCASS and solicitors will still try it on. Persevere.

  • zonked
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05 Mar 10 #190208 by zonked
Reply from zonked
The CRB and SS checks are standard, don't worry about them. Once done that’s one less argument the ex can use.

I think the conduct of the CAFCASS officer is a bit of red herring and your efforts ought to be focussed on the bigger picture.

In respect to the CAFCASS report. At the moment the ex dictates everything and the temptation is to present an argument that basically says 'both parents ought to be equal, that's only fair..'. The problem with this line is that it could be painted as your ptr seeking to increase his 'power' rather than being centred on his child's needs. At the moment, his son does not have a father that can make autonomous decisions or spend any real time with him, consequently he is missing out on a world of parenting that would be beneficial. I think this is the ground that you should focus on and it's an argument your going to need to rehearse and refine, when the interviews happen you will be ready to present the most positive angle. Part of your preparation ought to include speaking to families need fathers, just to get a different viewpoint. Ideally attend one of their meetings or alternatively they have a helpline in the evenings.

In respect to the contact arrangements. How your ptr deals with the ex is important. His son will be there, also he can't allow himself to be exposed to any allegations of hostility. Am sure he would do this anyway, but he will need to be polite and work on the assumption that he is being recorded.

The ex's behaviour is deplorable. When his son speaks about the contact application, my advice would be for your ptr to simply say that its an argument between the grown ups, both parents love him and he's pretty lucky to have that.

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