Who are Cafcass?
Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. They were first formed on 1st April 2001 as part of the Government’s commitment to supporting families and children.
Cafcass is an independent organisation that works with families only at the request of the courts in England. Cafcass usually become involved after you or the other parent (or carer or other adult) makes an application to court. For example if you make an application for a Child Arrangements Order – Live With or Spends Time With (please see blog on What is a Child Arrangements Order? (brethertons.co.uk)).
When an application to Court is made, Cafcass are usually asked to provide advice/recommendations to the court in the format of a safeguarding letter. This letter contains information to support the safe arrangements for your child(ren). Cafcass try to put your child(ren)’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that a child(ren)’s voice is heard at the heart of the family court setting. Their duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child(ren) going through the family justice system.
What is a safeguarding letter?
A safeguarding letter is a document prepared by Cafcass that is usually filed with the court and the parties (if appropriate). The safeguarding letter contains safeguarding checks and information taken by Cafcass during an interview with both parents (or carer or other adult). The safeguarding letter is then concluded with their advice/recommendations to the court.
Cafcass safeguarding checks include checks with the police and Local Authority to find out whether there are any known or welfare risks regarding you and your child(ren). They will also set out whether Cafcass has previously been involved with your family.
The Cafcass interview usually takes place remotely i.e., be telephone or video format. The Cafcass family court adviser will ask you and the other party whether you have any concerns about the safety and welfare of your child(ren). At this stage of the proceedings your child(ren) will not be spoken to by the Cafcass family court adviser. Only the parties to the court proceedings will be interviewed.
The Cafcass safeguarding letter is usually filed 20 working days following receipt of the court order or at least three days before the first court hearing.
The Cafcass safeguarding letter will be a short document on the outcomes of the safeguarding checks and any welfare issues raised through their screening. The safeguarding letter will identify any risks. This allows the Cafcass family court adviser to provide appropriate advice/recommendations to the court.
A Cafcass safeguarding letter is different to a Cafcass Report (i.e., Section 7 Report). A Cafcass safeguarding letter sets out the outcome of their preliminary enquiries.. A Cafcass S7 Report is only ordered if the court thinks the same is necessary and proportionate.
If you need assistance in respect of children and domestic violence court proceedings, we want to assist you. We will always aim to achieve the most satisfactory outcome that is possible. We will continue to advise you throughout the court proceedings.
The Children and Domestic Abuse team here at Brethertons LLP are here to answer any questions that you may have.
Please do not hesitate to contact us on 01788 579579 or 01295 270999 or at email@example.com
Alternatively, please contact one of the partners in our Children and Domestic Violence team directly. Kim Lehal on 01788557670 or Simon Craddock on 01295661430.