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What is CAFCASS, and how can it help me?

Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) is set up and administered by Ministry of Justice for facilitating children and family welfare. CAFCASS is also supported by social workers and volunteers. These social workers appraise the court of law about the situation and circumstances of children in a subject family court matter and assist the court for best possible relief and help for them.

A Family Court may advise CAFCASS to submit a report in respect of a child or children in a family court dispute.  CAFCASS would conduct an extensive enquiry into the matter and present its report to the court to help the family to handle the situation for welfare of a child. In few exceptional cases, a CAFCASS Officer may also be directed to be “Guardian” of the child in the subject matter. A CAFCASS Officer would not technically be a “Legal Guardian” but, would only act as a Guardian to look into the best possible interests of the child and also take assistance of social services while carrying out a Guardian role.

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CAFCASS has been consistently facing serious problems in complying with instructions given by family courts for many years. This is mainly due to an increase in the number of cases relating to family and children in family courts. More particularly, the Baby Peter case has had significant effect on child welfare perception, in turn resulting in a surge of caseloads in family courts.

The implications usually are reflected by delays in submitting reports to the courts by CAFCASS in respect of the child or children involved in subject family court disputes.

When a family court matter is on the CAFCASS file, it immediately initiates voluntarily and presents itself before the court to understand the need for their assistance to the court and family in respect of the child or children involved in the dispute. This is to provide best possible and swifter solution in the interest and welfare of children.

You may come across a CAFCASS Officer at the initial stages of the hearing. The CAFCASS Officer may attend the court assisting Lay Justices or Judges in family cases involving children. CAFCASS Officer may also hold a separate meeting with children and parents separately at important stages of the case. The CAFCASS meetings with parents and children may be varied according to the court procedure, system and allocation of particular family court matter. CAFCASS conducts regular audits with Police assistance and local social service workers in the family court disputes involving children and for their safety and well-being.

For more information on this subject please visit our Legal Library.


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06th October 2016

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