Cafcass: advice for fathers

Cafcass looks after the interests of children involved in family court proceedings. Officers advise the courts on what they consider to be in the best interests of individual children.


Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service.

Cafcass is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies. The main types of cases in which the courts ask Cafcass to help are when:

  • Parents or carers are separating or divorcing and have not reached agreement about arrangements for their children (but only in cases where the Court is specifically concerned about the welfare of the children - down to the Judges’ or Magistrates’ discretion).
  • Social services have become involved and have asked the Court for an order to temporarily remove children from their parents’ care for their safety.
  • Children could be adopted.

A Cafcass officer can only get involved with your family when they have been ordered by the Court. Their role can be general or specific, depending on what it says in the Court Order.

The role of the Cafcass Officer is to look after the best interest of the child. It's important to remember that they are not the enemy and a judge will take their report very seriously. However remember that in law a child has the right to have contact with its family (that's you) unless there are specific questions around the child's safety. The law therefore is working towards that right.


What should you do if a Cafcass officer is coming to observe you spending time with your child?

  1. Be mindful that the Cafcass officer is there for the interest of your child and as a parent you should consider that a positive thing as the best interest of your child should be paramount.
  2. Be natural, be yourself. The Officer will know if you are acting differently from normal visits, they are professionals.
  3. Be on time - this is more about respecting your child than anything else but it's these small things that show how considerate a parent you are.
  4. Be respectful - remember that all the professionals are there to help - also be respectful of the child's mother as far as you can regardless of how you feel about her. This will be noted.
  5. Don't be defensive - again if you go in fighting your corner regardless of how much you hurt or how unsupported you feel that will come across aggressively - try to communicate how you feel about the situation verbally in a positive manner at the appropriate time.
  6. Don't use the time to talk to the officer or anyone else, just use the time for your child/ren. You will get the opportunity to be interviewed by the Cafcass officer but make the most of the time you have with your child/ren.
  7. Be prepared - depending on the age of your children, take along appropriate supplies (e.g. nappies, wipes, food & healthy snacks) and think about the kind of interaction you can have with them. Bring along games to play e.g. building blocks for younger children, a board game for older children etc. Demonstrate that you are thinking about the child’s needs & want to spend fun time with them. Your Cafcass Officer will notice how prepared you are to spend time with your child/ren.
  8.  Try to be patient - it can take up to four months for Cafcass to complete their report. During this time they will be doing basic checks with your child’s GP, school or nursery, health visitor etc. They will also contact the police, social services and probation for any past or present records. It is frustrating waiting for the report, but there is nothing you can do to speed up the process but be patient.

Finally, relax and have some fun time with your children, YOU are the ONLY paternal dad they will ever have.

For more information about Cafcass go to:

About the author

Clare Kirby qualified as a lawyer in 1983 and worked for several years in industry. She founded Kirby & Co in 1997. As a member of Resolution and an advanced member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel she is experienced and respected in the field of family law. Trained as a collaborative lawyer, Clare offers clients a range of options - traditional, and collaborative law - to best meet the needs of the individual clients.



Updated: September 2017

Hide comments (41)


  • sylvia
    sylvia Saturday, 25 April 2015


    Could someone contact me please.

  • Guest
    Fed-up Grandad Saturday, 13 June 2015

    Beware of CAFCASS

    Unfortunately many CAFCASS officers are single mums themselves and will always side with the mother. Misleading and exaggerated accusations by the mother against the father are taken as fact without questionning or corroberation. Their recommendations are almost always accepted by the Family Court judge so they have far too much power. A single interview by a sole CAFCASS officer will decide your children's future. Beware of CAFCASS; they are not fit for purpose.

    Reply Cancel
  • jm
    jm Friday, 31 July 2015

    CAFCASS are not professionals

    Everything that this incompetant third rate social worker tells the judge through a report will be taken as FACT. Judges neither know nor care
    about Father's side. The last one I had got Mothers first name and surname wrong told a pack of lies about me and sent her report two days
    after the court date so I couldnt read it. She was not available for questioning and the Judge made an order knowing DAMNED well her star witness , the CAFCASS Officer, who had never observed us together was unreliable. The Courts are biased towards Mother. She will get all the rights, her boyfriends will be Fathers and you will see your child every other weekend . The Contact Order is not worth the paper it's written on, yet it costs thousnads of pounds to get. When it is broken, the JUdge won't enforce it.

    When I complained to CAFCASS I realised the higher up you go the more incompetant they actually were until eventually I gave up on the Courts
    completely. The Family Courts are not fit for purpos and the CAFCASS Officers are corrupt with power and should really be in jail for what they did to us.

    Reply Cancel
  • Graham PIckford
    Graham PIckford Wednesday, 09 March 2016

    MR G Pickford

    Cafcass should be renamed to crap cass if you will pardon the French. I have never ever dealt with such a biased organization in my life who have only one policy to make dads walk away! by painting them as bad as bad can be, it doesn't matter how bad the mother is and as for protecting children in my opinion they have totally destroyed children, making them damaged for life mentally scared and under some law should be shown for what they are, and the family courts judges on making court orders for contact, mothers are exempt from obeying them! as they know no one will bother to enforce them.
    Oh yea when their is an important decision on contact they will go on holiday or have to be on training somewhere else.
    so yes no decision can be made leaving kids and dads who want contact look forward to contact bitterly disappointed what other organisation would be allowed to get away with this behaviour. disgrace.

  • Guest
    Angry Female! Tuesday, 17 May 2016


    I am a partner of a very lovely man going through a custody battle with his abusive ex-partner. The thing is CAFCASS has completely ignored the facts put across by my partner and totally sided with the mother of the child. They have said he has an alcohol problem and has anger issues and has recommended that he goes on an anger management course...none of these things are true! Where do they have the right to say this to a court without any evidence? He on the other hand has piles of evidence that was just put aside by Cafcass. Her daughter (not his) even lives with us because she was abusive to her when she was a child and would rather live with her step dad. They completely ignored the text messages that said she was only taking him to court so he would have to spend all his money and the one where she asked him if he was enjoying the games that she is playing with him. How can these people be judge and jury? I myself have an abusive ex-partner but I would never stop him from seeing his children it seems to me that a woman can say and do what she likes and just get away with it. My partner is almost suicidal over this and has no idea of what to do. I will be speaking to my MP over this it is a huge miscarriage of justice.

  • Team 1 Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Dear All

    Thank you for your comments and for sharing your experiences, it is appreciated.

    Although we are not able to offer direct advice on every situation, it may be that the Family Rights Group or Citizens Advice could offer some help and encouragement - links for both are below:

    We also have a forum page on our website, where our community of dads and experienced moderators may be able to help.

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Mick Sunday, 19 June 2016


    It should read Children And Womens Court Advisery And Support Service as women ALWAYS get their way, being taught out of Books and having paper qualifications will NEVER make you properly able to address the problems faced by BOTH parents unless there is some redress to your organistaion, the Courts and you are a facade for womens rights alone and you should hang your head in shame for taking money to destroy Fathers the way you do, yu do far more harm than good but you are so blinkered and self righteous

  • Guest
    Lancashire Wednesday, 29 June 2016

    Concerned Grandmother

    My son & his partner separated in April 2016 contact was going well, till Mother decided contact had to stop. we are upset regarding not seeing our granddaughter & my son not allowed to see his daughter, we do not know what steps we need to take for us to have access

  • Team 1 Team 1 Wednesday, 29 June 2016

    Hi there Concerned Grandmother - please see the following link for the Children's Legal Centre

    Hopefully they will be able to give you some help and advice.

    If you require any further help, although we can't comment directly on specific cases we may be able to point you towards someone who can help.

    Good luck and all the best!

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    adam Monday, 04 July 2016


    IN my experience with cafcass. I found them extremely biased and sexist. They are modern thugs and are fully unfit for the purpose.

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Guest Sunday, 17 January 2021

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