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CAFCASS are The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service who look after the interests of children involved in family proceedings. They are independent of the Courts and Social Services. They work with children and their families, and then advise the Courts on what is considered to be in the best interests of individual children.
In July 2018, CAFCASS received a total of 3,768 new private law cases. This is 4.2% higher than in July 2017, when there were 3,617 cases.
When an Application to the Court is issued in respect of a child such as, where they shall live, the time they will spend with the parent they do not live with or if there is a specific issue to be dealt with, CAFCASS are notified and carry out safeguarding checks before the First Hearing.
Safeguarding checks include any police involvement for either party and also whether the family have ever been known to Social Services. A CAFCASS officer will also have a telephone interview with all parties (this doesn’t include the children) and ascertain the issues involved. CAFCASS then make recommendations to the Court and the parties as to how matters shall proceed. In some circumstances, CAFCASS’s role will end there. In other situations, CAFCASS or Social Services (if they have been involved with the family) need to carry out further work. This involves meeting directly with the parents, they may need to meet with the children subject to the application as well as speaking to any professional or person involved with the child. Further investigation is generally done where allegations are made by both or one party and these need to be looked at further to ensure that the child is safe.
CAFCASS play a very important role in Court proceedings regarding children. It is concerning that there has been an increase in CAFCASS involvement in children act proceedings as clearly more families are referring their situations to the courts to determine rather than trying to resolve issues amicably. Here at Ramsdens we can provide advice and support to families who are separating and represent parents in court proceedings when necessary