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

Hide comments (41)

Comments

  • Guest
    David Allis Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    .

    Ruined my life- Judge explained to me that the domestic violence- punching in the face in front of my girls was fine because cafcass said it was okay. Don`t see my girls- cafcass should explain that they are a womens group who do not care about what is best for children.

  • Guest
    Mike Wednesday, 13 September 2017

    Shambkes

    They ignore the facts, the evidence as long as the child is not in immediate danger. Them, the courts and social services all cater for mothers using there children as weapons. Theres no equality in 2017 in these systems and they dont know anything because its soley based on a single interview, a few court hearings. They dont assign 1 person to your case ever, to take time to see whats really going on here and what is really best for your child. At the end of the day a child getting used as a weapon isnt guna make the news headlines is it but a child death will, so thats what they concentrate on and obviously its right to do that but it shouldnt stop there but it very much does and there lies the problem

  • Guest
    Terry james Scales Tuesday, 05 December 2017

    Cafcass disgrace

    Much like many of the events I've already read on here concerning the shamefully way cafcass officers go about their work. All I have had is a 10 minute telephone conversation with one of the cafcass officers and this had led to me not seeing my son for over 2 months and the prospect of it being much longer before I do. The raised safeguarding issues over Completely inaccurate domestic violence allegations, I am the only one that has evidence to my wife's volatile temper with abusive text messages she regularly makes. Still she made the decision she has. It really is criminal what they can get away it. Something needs doing to the whole family court system. It' has presided over a male genocide and nothing at all is done about it.

  • Guest
    rob scott Wednesday, 20 December 2017

    Father from Powys

    When is this ever going to be exposed? I am a fantastic father and s/s and cafcass have stitched me up from the start mums can say whatever they want do what they want and we get cast aside and demonised by pompous evil thugs. Children's wishes mean nothing. WHEN WHEN will this be investigated, sadly I fear never as it is a £ generating farce that bring millions to the state and jobs for the boys (or should I say girls)

  • Guest
    DW Tuesday, 30 January 2018

    Let's not be harsh toward Cafcass - they're highly professional

    Oh, Cafcass! Apologies for length - let the world hear me on Cafcass....

    So, we're in 2005, the ex-wife ('X') has a panic disorder diagnosis from her GP, CBT just failed, medication failed and books failed to treat her symptoms as well. NICE CG113 shows that X should have been referred to specialist mental health service for reassessment and future care. Actually, X can't be alone or live alone, self-mutilates, rages, has breaks with reality and other symptoms of what is clinically termed 'Borderline Personality Disorder'.

    BPD is a serious mental illness which has a 10% suicide rate. Most of the people who develop the disorder (during childhood) will proceed to self-harm. Anxiety and panic are common symptoms of BPD. Where BPD is present, anxiety and panic won't respond to treatment. CG113 isn't about BPD (CG78 is) but it exists to prevent a GP from making this sort of basic misdiagnosis.

    As is pretty well known, anxiety, panic and BPD tend to run in families, BPD strongly relating to serious childhood abuse and general family dysfunctional behaviours. Hence X (2008) refers to herself as 'evil' and alleges incest as the cause of that opinion. As is also very well known, persons who fulfil the BPD diagnostic criteria tend to be masters of the false abuse, harassment and stalking accusation, very charming, sympathetic, amusing and 'high function' socially, but very deceitful, empty, needy, erratic and violent in their domestic behaviours. At their worst, they can be murderously delusional and angry. I had those experiences with X. Which is why I left her.

    So, we've got CG113 and the most common BPD misdiagnosis, we've got the entire raft of false abuse, harassment and stalking accusations, we have the BPD diagnostic criteria and in the city where this all takes place, we have LSCB 1.5.6 ('Parental Personality Disorder') detailing the harms BPD will typically do to children. We've also got cut and dried BPD, plus the attendant family history, so the children are both at high risk of maltreatment, chronic stress, early life parental loss and developing BPD themselves. Simple. Any intelligent and reasoned person could align all of these facts, guidelines and procedures, do so in less than an hour, apply the metrics and have irrefutable proof that each child (objectively) is at severe risk of developing BPD by late adolescence.

    What we need now is Cafcass.

    Prior to my first experience of Cafcass I do a quick Google check on the name of the 'professional' who is going to call me. She plays folk guitar at left wing festivals. 'I have never heard of Borderline Personality Disorder' she says. A Children's Guardian is appointed. The mother's solictor was so familiar with the judge I half expected them to kiss. X was 'in the Victim Support Room, with her mother'. I explained to the judge that a number of very specialised factors relating to the family, mother, GP and to complex guidelines, diagnostics and metrics, would have to be understood by the Guardian, suggesting that the Guardian be a qualified mental health social worker.

    He looked at me like I'd just dropped my trousers. 'Cafcass are professionals!' he said.

    'I don't know what BPD is' said the Children's Guardian. 'The children are fine', she said. I asked her how that could the case, given the family history, CG113, BPD and the advice of every professional body with a mental health remit on BPD? Dull stare. 'Tell me about the domestic abuse'. I begin to detail why I had to leave. She's not typing. So I stop talking. 'Is BPD diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a psychologist?' she asked. That's £40K a year, everyone! I explain that I very much want to see the children. Ms Cafcass looks as serious as anyone who dresses like a p***** elf can look serious.

    'That will be some time off' she said.

    Of course, I was arrested after court ('For psychological abuse equivalent to actual bodily harm and for harassment') but before Ms Cafcass brought her Sociology 2:1 into my life. I enjoyed the wit and wisdom of the police for a day. Six months later I had some more of their wisdom ('You have to understand that some people behave differently at the end of relationships then go back to normal - you have to understand that X is normal'). Apparently, there had been 'a complex investigation' which, sadly, hadn't produced any evidence of X having ever been stalked, harassed or abused by me. I just wish the police could run the country, along with Cafcass - who is with me on this?

    So in 2013 we had Cafcass speaking to the GP, the police and the mother, in the echo chamber state agencies work within, quoting one another, so there's a GP who isn't the qualified doctor, a parent who knows she should have the BPD diagnosis, Cafcass (who don't know what BPD is) and some thugs in uniform ('police officers') who get all of their opinions from the GP and the mother and who don't realise all of the accusations are false. Then, lest we forget, there is the pompous authoritarian nobody ('District Judge') who called Cafcass 'professionals' - but the real tickler is that BPD runs in families and kills 10% of the children who develop it, which Cafcass refer to as 'fine'.

    I needed to lie down in a dark room.

    In late 2015 I try again. There is a voice on the other end of the phone. This is Cafcass. The voice sounds like the brain it is attached to is made of cement. We'll call him 'Boris'. Boris isn't very bright. You can hear proof of this every time he speaks. As I can hear it, you'd expect Cafcass to be able to hear it as well. Boris is fascinated by BPD. 'You experienced severe domestic abuse' he says. This was true. I did. Now he's giving his opinion on BPD - which he got from I don't know where. Then he believes that I've said BPD is a genetic disorder. Three times I stop him and suggest that he refer to the NHS on BPD and that there is no evidence as yet that BPD is simply a genetically inherited disorder. Call ends.

    Letter arrives. No mention whatever of 'severe domestic abuse'. The letter is poorly written. Boris concludes that I am 'obsessed by BPD and pose a threat to the twins. The court should appoint a psychiatrist to assess me.

    There is very loud thumping noise, which turns out to be the sound a masssive legal document makes when it lands on a floor. X wants me banned from the Planet Earth by next Tuesday. Because I am a threat to her and the children, based on the Cafcass opinion.

    I know that I am done as a parent. Why? Because these agencies collaborate ideologically and personally, even if the official line is that they operate independently, they operate as a hierarchy, clearly do so and do so outside of all of the published governance, which they simply ignore. They seek to disprove complaints, not to objectively review complaints. They make claims on their own behalf that blank and empty claims - usually, derogatory as well ('As you know, the GP comes from a medically trained background', 'No agency has concerns') which are facile and logically fallacious. After all, beserk raging, self-mutilation, terror of being alone, either exist and occur as fact, or they don't. We apply CG113, it proves misdiagnosis. We apply the BPD evidence base, we prove severe risk of serious child maltreatment and eventual major mental illness for children. It's not every day I come across stupidity, that only happens when I hear from social workers.

    I send Cafcass a complaint, covering all of the objective facts, guidelines and procedures, metrics, diagnostics, history, NHS, NICE, LSCB, etc., pointing out that if a GP is bound to adhere to NICE CG113 (or state reasons for not so doing) then Cafcass must be bound to adhere to CG113 as well. That not one single fact allowed Cafcass to conclude that X was not meant to be under specialist psychiatric care but that I should be. That it was particularly shocking that they gave opinions without any form of fact checking, quality assurance or compliance testing. That I didn't recognise either themselves or the court as having the professional competence needed to assess the children's probable direction of travel, which is toward anxiety, panic, self-harm, eating disorders, BPD and instability, in many similar cases, this alone proving that Cafcass and the court were harmful agencies, but that the harm was now unstoppable by me. I noted too, that early life parental loss is a major building block toward major disorder for children who have a biological predisposition toward such serious forms of mental illness, and that Cafcass and the mother sought such outcomes for the children, that this showed scientific illiteracy, incompetence writ large and was very typical of their 'work' - which seemed to be an assault on objective science, the children and normal society.

    BPD runs in families. Cafcass response? 'You're not a mental health specialist'. Excuse me? Hello! What is the family history? Alcoholism, incest, depression, suicide attempts. Anxiety is the most common BPD diagnosis 'This is our professional opinion'. Hello! A professional opinion that manages to break NICE clinical guidelines, ignores LSCB safeguarding information on BPD, which bears no resemblance to any part of the science on anxiety, panic or BPD, which disregards Welfare Checklist, Children Act and NHS, is unsafe, but exists in a process where it will be acted on by a judge as a statement of objective fact - that I pose a risk to my children. Court appointed means 'Cafcass appointed' which means 'a shrink who derives a large proportion of his or her income from agreeing with Cafcass' which, in turn, means, two children who might otherwise have been with me, safe, loved and having normal worlds to develop in are now (heartbreakingly) at best experiencing a crazy raging parent who can't be alone and at worse on their way toward very upsetting mental illness - all thanks to Cafcass! I declined their kind offer and all of their work, I think, really because we'd have been repeating 2013, and you run out of hope - that it is all too tragic for words.

    I'd like to thank Anthony Douglas and Women's Aid here too. Douglas because his effortlessly pompous babble ('blog') is a great example of a deluded narcissist showing off what intellectual mediocrity looks like. And Women's Aid for doing more to harm the girls than any man could.

  • Guest
    K MIller Friday, 18 May 2018

    K Miller

    I am going through the cafcass process right now and I am ashamed that we call them fit for purpose. I thought we were in a modern and enlightened country and expected cafcass to be helpful not bias...

    I can't go into detail but god help you if you are a man and you have no chance of ever seeing your children once cafcass are involved.

    In my case they have done a report based on the mothers word and not investigated facts the court haven't done fa t finding and worse still I have a mild disability..

    According to cafcass I may be detrimental to our children because of it... The excuse is they don't actually know and have not taken into account that I am capable of many things including being a good Dad. Their bias view is firstly that children should always be living with Mothers which century are we living in ? Secondly they believe man make fire and money women make home and babies... ? Again which century are we in ? Thirdly being disabled is a crime against humanity and any disabled parent is harmful to children ...

    They didn't ask me how my disability affects me personally they didn't check with my GP or anyone who actually knows me and lives with my disability and they just used the children's act as I might cause harm as the excuse to say go away you don't deserve children as you are disabled you shouldn't be a parent..

    Where is the support they say they give ? Can they destroy families just in case something might happen ? That's like saying you shouldn't leave the house with a child in case they get run over catch a cold or mix with other people who might live differently just in case they are corrupted influenced or in danger what rubbish they spout based on a 2 hour meeting they ruin lives and line there own pockets either by suggesting reports that the court pays for or worse still advertising contact centre prison sentences to children and parents. The centres are run by ex colleagues and the charges are extortion and all this is done behind closed doors so no one knows apart from the poor parent suffering.

    They say it's in the child's best interests NO it's a just in case cover your backs and just say NO to anything that isn't normal to them personally.

    BIAS DISCRIMINATION CRIMINAL RUN BY OUTDATED WOMENS RIGHTS GROUPS.

    How terribly sad I thought we were fighting for women's rights to equality I didn't realise we were fighting for women to rule the world alone.

  • Guest
    Maria Faria Thursday, 28 June 2018

    CAFCASS IS THE REALY BOSS OF THE ENGLISH JUSTICE

    I totally agree with all the comments.
    I recently had a parental custody issue involving my son and granddaughter. From affirmations, false accusations, loss of documents and exchange of telephone numbers, all the technique of Cafcass did. He even went so far as to say: maybe, yes, maybe not, shuuu, I'm the boss. Nothing that has not already been described in previous testimonials. My son's ex-partner laughed, shouted, threatened, abandoned his daughter with his father for 10 days, and even lied about oath.
    The Cafcass technique was questioned by the judge herself, who saw that my granddaughter's father was only fighting for her daughter, and her mother had only to reoccupy with himself.
    For even in this spectacle everything that began with a process of restriction of steps since the former companion intends to leave the UK without authorization from the father, the judge gives a sentence according to the subjective opinion of the Cafcass technique.
    That is why I ask and affirm: in the family courts the judges do not know how to judge or are afraid to issue opinions against Cafcass technicians who do not know how to see the true interests of the children.
    My son stays in Uk I do not know how long but the daughter after 48 hours was already in Portugal
    Please go home to plant potatoes and do not hurt any more children.

  • Guest
    Liz Thursday, 09 August 2018

    Guest

    We have just been to the family court for a final judgement where the original CAFCAS officer suggested the father to have access 3 times per year just to keep in touch. That officer had left and a new CAFCASS officer has recommended every 3 weeks leading up to 8 hours per day with a father who has paranoid schizerfrenia and supervised by his mother who thinks that there is nothing wrong with him even though he was sectioned for trying to strangle her. Where is the justice for a 5 year old child?

  • Guest
    Granddad Friday, 14 September 2018

    Granddad

    My son and his partner separated and he regularly had the children to stay overnight while his Ex. went out to work in the evenings .When he moved away from their home town she curtailed visits making feeble excuses that she had arranged other activities on his visiting days. She then married and stopped all visits stating that the children no longer wished to see their father. Cafcass interviewed the children and stated that indeed the children were happy with this arrangement and that is what they would recommend to the Court. Their was no mention of parental alienation or the fact that the children had been turned against their father and that they would no longer visit with me (their Grandfather ) This decision by Cafcass has upset my son to the point that he feels there is little point in proceeding with further court action to obtain access to HIS children. Well done Cafcass, ruined another loving father. !!!!

  • Guest
    Ams Saturday, 17 November 2018

    Help help 5 weeks not seen my kids

    I looked after my kids while she sat in bedroom. I looked after them for 2 months while she went on holiday in India. THEN comes back and accuses me of rape 2009 so she can have social services help that believe her lies and so she can run away with my kids 10 9 6 3.
    I did everything just want see my kids.
    The system is joke they can lie go on benefits get legal aid and get house get benefits to pay there debts off while no food in fridge.
    Then they can't cope with kids they go on drugs and crime and then a support worker like me have to help them.

Leave your comment

Guest Tuesday, 19 November 2019

PLEASE NOTE: If you have a specific question for DAD.info or for other dads, please post it on our Forum.

We may use your email address to respond to you about your comment. View our Privacy Policy for more details.