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: www.cafcass.gov.uk

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

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Comments

  • Guest
    Andy Wednesday, 06 July 2016

    ???

    The mother of my grandson has been obstructive all the way through my grandson's life. My son, his father, has has to fight through the courts for access - had to have Cafcass involved and has had to listen to the torrents of abuse from the other grandma because the mother wouldn't speak directly to my son. We have had to miss out on a grandchild. He is now 14. They split when he was very young due to her abusive and controlling behaviour. She has finally won as our grandson has just told his dad that he wants nothing to do with his dad or his family. It disgusts me that the mother can happily slag off the father to their son and think it's ok. It's a form of abuse but no-one wants to know. I just hope that he doesn't grow to be liked the warped person his mother is. My son has tried so hard -- had to do everything by the book and still had to lose. I'm just so very sad.

  • Guest
    grace Thursday, 16 March 2017

    andy

    As a mother of 7 kids and grandmother of 18 kids my son is getting a divorce but his ex is telling so many storys about my son no one will listen to him he had to fight to get to see his oldset son when he was a baby because she and my son was not married at the time no their are married they had another son 4 years ago and she has brain washed the oldset son with the help of her mum and step dad. My son is so down i am scared for my son my grandson are my son world. Why do these women get away with it the kid are not a weapon to us

  • Guest
    andrew, Saturday, 09 July 2016

    cafcass

    My eldest daughter died 12 years ago and my first wife had a cardiac arrest 9 years ago, following this i met a woman we moved in together during which time she emptied my bank accounts. After 18 months of marriage i started divorce proceedings, then she changed from never wanting to do things with my remaining daughter to constantly being by her side, telling her that she would never see her grandmothers and her step mum if she got in my van as i would not bring her home, her step mother firstly took me to court for abduction, even though my daughter would not get in the van with me, when the papers were delivered to our house where we all still lived, the cafcass officer said that even though i was the only surviving parent that she was to live with her stepmum and i now have contact 1 weekend in 4. this woman has played the system and cafcass are a waste he never even visited the house to see the conditions my daughter lived and lives in,

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Monday, 11 July 2016

    Morning Andrew - thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. We are unable able to make specific comments regarding specific issues but I have included a link to the Children's Legal Centre below - they may be able to offer you some advice.

    http://www.coram.org.uk/?gclid=CMi5iueo8MwCFSQW0wod6qIO5Q

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    Sarah Sunday, 31 July 2016

    Help

    Quick question. My son is nearly 8 and now his dad has had more children he has decided to be a father again, which is fine. However i had to flee from him because he was domestically violent and would hold me and my son hostage drag my hair out choke slam me an more in front of my son. Now older, it is a thing of the past but my son still has a slight fear of the man through what he has seen with his own two eyes. I had been trying to encourage his father to spend time soley with my son to build a father son relationship because its important that my son removes his stigma and they get to know each other, also so my son doesnt feel away because over the years Simon didnt see his child he was raising somebody elses and that really hurt my son the first time they were in contact, although he does love the kids he was hurt at his dad. Furthermore his father is letting his step son beat on my son and my son as decided at this moment he doesn't want to go back and i am not forcing him. Knowing what hes been through seeing my son cry year in year out for this man if he says he doesnt want to right now than thats fine. However his dad is now furious. He refuses to accept how his son feels saying his step son isn't a kid off the street and was demanding to see him. The thing is, this violent intimidation streak only serves to resurface old wounds and bad memories. Plus the fact he has been slandering me at my previous address and passed my number to his current partner to add her 2p and threaten my concerns so i just completely switched off. So now the father is legally trying to force the contact, bothered that although from birth he didn't see his son consistently ever in his life, and i had to flee two addresses- one a mother and baby unit where staff witnessed him screaming and shouting outside and had to bar him from the premises, now hes worried about the past few months. I personally think my son is upset and will change his mind in his own time, lets face it all boys need fathers but can the solicitor or the courts force a child if the child doesnt want to go?? His father is demanding weekends and dates he wants him and my son is concerned that it is too long. Ive lightly explained the situation and he doesn't know what he wants. Is a child entitled to change his mind, because we are not completely sure and also am i doing the right thing letting the child decide because frankly i cannot stand the man, and if it was up to me i would say no because having to see a man who has done some awful things makes me really uncomfortable. Also i have not ever had this man at my home address since i have moved here, the letter from the solicitors insists that the man comes to my home address to see his son, where i was told by my health visitor i have a duty of care to protect my children and not to have him at my home. I feel like its legal bully tactics. Forcing us to let him into our home although after being held hostage where he confiscated the keys and phone's i dont want this man on my physical company ever. There are doctors managers health visitors who all suggested counselling after what this man put me through, and he thinks he can click his fingers stamp his feet and succumb us to legal bullying. I dont even feel i can attend mediation because it triggers my anxiety and the very thought can cause loss of appetite. Its all documented i have been doctors over what this man has done to me. Can this man still force access into my life and home and am i right in giving my child space to decide for himself?? I will do anything for my son i refuse to do anything to cooperate or help his father. He has done nothing but ruin and control our lives and is still doing it "legally" i do know at this moment when my son is saying he doesn't want to go, if he is forced he will become a deeply unsettled little boy. His school will and can back me up on the negative impact his father was having on his school work last year. An the improvement when contact stopped. He also achieved greatly on his year2 sats exceeding government standards.

  • Guest
    andy jacques Tuesday, 11 October 2016

    Mr

    I spilt up with my ex in Feb of this at the time she was 7 months pregnant I broke up with as she always was abusing me hitting me etc when my daughter was born she made she was dying etc to get my attention and she was lying to get me to do all the work so she could sleep lazy person I've had to go through the courts I have a no contact order against her as she would send death threats about my daughter etc is there any more I can do as I'm not on my daughter birth certificate but she is claiming child support

  • Guest
    Dan Saturday, 15 October 2016

    Outdated and gender bias.

    An outdated, gender bias organisation. If you have the misfortune to have to deal with them, consider CAFCAS as just another barrier that as a father you have to deal with. Fortunately for me the courts paid little attention to them which seems to be the norm.

  • Guest
    fathers_no_more Tuesday, 18 October 2016

    Andy

    CafCass are a nightmare...

    If you are dealing with CafCass DO NOT say anything other than what they want to hear. You have to take the same approach as you would with an arrest statement unfortunately (no comment). They have been trained to look out for red flag "key words" in your conversations with them.

    In my professional experience in representing fathers I have found that the men that get the most access are usually "non native" men with English as their second language. Mainly because they keep it zipped.

    CafCass cannot deal with any form of conflict they see it as warning signs. So words such as "borderline personality", "aspergic behaviour" mean nothing to them. Even though it is well known in courts that high conflict cases with non-communicative mothers who "ghost" the father of their children is often down to maladaptive thinking in the mothers.

    Its a simple as that if you want CafCass on your side in the family court.

    Basically it is another "new labour" organisation that is not fit for purpose. The damage they cause to society and family relations will only become visible 10 years down the line when more than likely this organisation will no longer exist (hopefully)

  • Guest
    Yorkshire Friday, 04 November 2016

    Cafcass

    After going through the court system as a unmarried father with no rights being accused of mistreating etc I can only say that without the help from cafcass ( Leeds ) my task would have been impossible .
    It takes time to go through the court system ( 18 months ) First PR, then observations , Children centres etc but time unfolds how and what your children's views are towards you .
    If you are in the same situation and you know all is untrue , you will get all the help you need , represent yourself in court , find pointers from the Internet . It all takes time , sometime degrading what you have to go through , but it's the system and hopefully you will get a positive result.

  • Guest
    Bob Friday, 09 December 2016

    Professionals have concerns about Cafcass

    Professionals have expressed concerns about Cafcass taking sides and making malicious false accusations against fathers (which on the CPS Guidance, could be construed as a criminal offence).

    The Prosecution of Offenders Act provides that any citizen has the right to bring a prosecution. This is more than just a few social workers on a frolic of their own and as Cafcass have received a professional complaint they are on notice. I hope charges are brought at a senior level. I have heard many fathers who say they have evidence that Cafcass lied and made malicious false accusations against them.

    It's actually an illegal cartel, the whole motive behind it is financial, with paying for training with organisations like Women's Aid who give training on the Dulith Model that has been proven to be inaccurate. Females are significantly more likely to be violent and controlling and Cafcass are deliberately resisting attempts from the British Psychological Society to update their training. The Social Worker Regulator fails to take action and a happy coincidence that a senior figure at Cafcass sits on misconduct hearings.

    Cafcass are not doing duty of care to the child.

    Cafcass had to pay about £80,000 to one father that they made malicious false accusations against, yet no criminal charges were brought. This corruption is systemic and a lot of it comes from the Home Office. A case in front of the International Criminal Court is the only option, this has gone on long enough.

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