How Do I Prepare for a Cafcass Call?
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Contents of this article:
4.1. TIP 1
4.2. TIP 2
4.3. TIP 3
4.4. TIP 4
If you have applied for private children proceedings or you are a party to such proceedings, there is no doubt you will find yourself speaking to a CAFCASS officer, but how do you prepare to meet a CAFCASS officer? What is the CAFCASS officer meeting like? This article should answer all of your questions and prepare you better for that critical meeting.
Who are CAFCASS?
In summary, CAFCASS are court appointed social workers who speak to both parties and will evaluate the situation and report their findings back to the court. Their reports will always be in the best interests of the child. Their report has huge influence on the final judgement of the court, and is therefore important that you are well prepared for their phone call.
What is in a Safeguarding Letter?
When you attend a hearing, the Judge does not know either party and of course does not take sides. However, CAFCASS officers speak to both parties prior to the hearing and prepare a safeguarding letter which will set out details of;
Brief history of the parties relationship
Contact with the children and any arrangements that are in place/have broken down
Both parties involvement with the local authority (if any)
Both parties criminal records (if any)
Recommendations for contact
How do I prepare for the CAFCASS phone call?
CAFCASS will typically speak to both parents before the First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Appointment (FHDRA) although in some cases such as emergency applications, this may happen later. The aim of CAFCASS is to find out whether there are any safeguarding and/or welfare concerns regarding the children in question. The children will always be of paramount consideration, and any recommendations made by CAFCASS will be based on the children’s best interests.
When CAFCASS speak to parties their key factor of consideration is the child.
Section 1 (Sub Section 1) of the Children Act 1989 states: “when a court determines any question with respect to (a) the upbringing of a child; or (b) the administration of a child’s property or the application of any income arising from it, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.
Stick to the facts. If you have found yourself reading this article, you may be going through a difficult time full of emotions and worries about what may lie ahead. We understand. First and foremost, consider sticking to the facts of your situation and keep yourself composed, and try your best not to allow your emotions to get the better for you adn prevent you from making your points clearly. It is very easy to throw all sorts of allegations and demonstrate frustration within these interviews. Do not make the interview an exercise targeted at the other party but focus on the child(ren). When speaking, h and take a small break to articulate your thoughts if you wish, do not rush.
Be prepared. Have a list of points you wish to discuss with the CAFCASS officer and work through them in order and to avoid missing key points. Some suggestions would be;
Brief history of the relationship
Details about the child(ren), his/her welfare
The contact you had when the relationship came to an end and arrangements you had with the other parent
Changes since then and where it started to go wrong and you became concerned
The Arrangements now (if any)
If the arrangements have stopped (what you believe the reasons to be)
Your proposals for contact
Safeguarding and welfare concerns about the child (if any)
Do not lie or exaggerate. Remember, CAFCASS is not there to take sides of either party. CAFCASS’ role is to ensure that their recommendations are in the best interests of the child and in almost all cases the Judge will follow the recommendations of CAFCASS, in fact only 3.6% of cases go against the CAFCASS report, with 96.4% following the recommendations of CAFCASS.
If you lie or exaggerate this could prejudice your position in the proceedings later on and could affect your credibility if it is found later on that you have lied/exaggerated. You may be asked questions by CAFCASS that make you feel uncomfortable or you may perceive this as CAFCASS taking sides if they have spoken to the other parent before you.
Stick to the facts and do not be surprised if CAFCASS mention allegations against you, these are very common in children proceedings.
Do not unnecessarily criticise the other party. It is very easy to speak negatively of the
other parent/party, especially where the breakdown of the relationship has been quite difficult. Always put the children first and try to keep your feelings towards the other party separate. Remember that this is about the child and not a way to get revenge or insult the other party. Be careful in the words used to describe the other party. Make the child your focus.
That being said, any real safeguarding issues/concerns should always be mentioned in the best interest of the children)
You may read our other article regarding CAFCASS and Section 7 reports here.
Other related articles:
Please feel free to contact us if you need additional information, or need any help in your family law court case.
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