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What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 5 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Cafcass Family Court Parents Children

For an agency that’s not well known, Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) wields an awful lot of power. Whenever parents can’t agree over an application for a Contact Order, they become involved, compiling a report on the family, both parents and children. The document they produce carries a great deal of weight with the Family Court.

Both Cafcass and Family Court have undergone their share of controversy, the first for some of the content of their reports and its methodology, the second for operating in relative secrecy. Cafcass presents its report as a completed document at court, and interested parties have no chance to challenge it beforehand, although they are sent copies.

Who Compiles The Cafcass Report?

The Cafcass Staff who compile the reports are known as Children and Family Reporters. It’s their job to interview both parents in the case, as well as the children, and any others who might be needed, which could mean social workers, medical professionals, or even relatives.

The Reporters are social workers themselves, but their qualifications don’t go beyond that (one criticism levelled at them is that they sometimes make observations that go beyond their field of expertise, such as in the medical area).

From the interviews they conduct, the Reporter will determine two things: whether there should be contact allowed, and, if so, how much. It’s a measure of how important the Cafcass recommendation is that the court will almost invariably adhere to it.

The Cafcass Report Process

The building blocks of the Cafcass report are the interviews the reporters carry out. They talk to both parents, generally quite extensively, although not necessarily in a home setting, which can leave people uneasy in an unfamiliar environment.

Since the report takes around 10 weeks to compile, a number of people are interviewed, a wide range, and there are instances when the court will ask the Reporter to talk to a specific person, for instance a health visitor.

The Reporter will inform parents about the people they’ll interview, which will include the police and a check of the Child Protection Register – that’s standard, and shouldn’t alarm anyone.

Of course, they’ll also want to interview any children involved, as long as they’re old enough. Part of the responsibility of the court is to take the wishes of the children into account where possible, although that doesn’t mean that will necessarily happen. It’s vital that the Reporter remains neutral with the child and doesn’t ask him or her to take sides.

Criticism of Cafcass Reports

Although most Cafcass reports are fine, there have been a number of criticisms thrown at Reporters. These can be for inappropriate remarks, or ones that are unqualified. For instance, a report might mention “domestic violence” in a relationship, without explaining what the violence is (it could, in fact, be something as trivial as sulking). There have been occasions when the Reporter has included nothing in the report about the wishes of the child, even when the child is old enough to expresses preferences and opinions. At times reports haven’t included pertinent information about the children, such as learning difficulties.

In other words, the reports aren’t perfect, and where a person finds failing in the report, there are grounds to ask for it to be disregarded – that can be entirely or just in part – or to be discredited. There have been occasions when the court has made it decision based on a bad report. When that’s happened, the bad report constitutes grounds for appeal.

Not all experiences of Cafcass are negative, many are positive and help numbers of fathers gain access to their child. Have a look at our reader story My Positive Experience of Cafcass.

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My wife of 3 years from Asia walked out and took our son of 2 claiming sexual violence, financial and verbal abuse. Her story seems to change and I am not really sure what she is going to say next. She has used just a statement of our sexual practices that she now says we're forced on her, both when she was in her own country when I visited her and Sincerely she came her 2 years ago. If I was abusing her before marriage and after the birth of our son, why come her? I can disprove financial abuse easily as I have supported her for five years, getting into debt doing so. The sexual violence claims won't stack up when the see the Skype conversations we had and the topics we discussed and planned. It won't show me in a great light due to my language but it will prove her to be an out and out liar. The emotional abuse is based on ever increasingly bitter arguments toward the end. She has apparently recorded them after goading me with claims of extra marital sex. She has published our entire life on Facebook since she came here and on social media forums for her expat community here. Most of her friends have deserted her now because she attacked them publicly when they found her lies out. I have had to accept a non molestation order just to keep costs down, all of her claims are a nonsense. No one seems to listen to me or want to see any evidence so far. It's one sided to the extreme. This is about her visa to remain that I said I would not support as we had no marriage in reality. I have slept on the sofa for two years and there was just a few occasions we had sex and that was she wanted to get pregnant again. All her friends know that we have not had sex as she complained to all of them for two years! The knew everything, even impotency issues that should have between man and wife! The god mother to our son and another of her once best friends and confidants know all her plans (she has planned this this she came here apparently) both from her country but living here, are willing to give evidence. My questions is will CAFCAS or the court actually bother to talk to them???? They can turn her lies upside down in seconds. That with my evidence would show her for what she is. But I fear no one will even bother to ask anyone but her and that seems madness. This country has gone to far listening to just the woman! When will it change so we men get a fair hearing??
Oldmechanic - 5-Apr-17 @ 2:26 PM
Sarah - Your Question:
Cafcass carried out a report on myself and my partner due to an allegation his son made that I hit him, they accessed my medical findings relating to hospital admissions due to overdoses and disclosed it all to the other party with out any of my consent or permission. Are they allowed to do this, share my personal information without even asking me!

Our Response:
We cannot comment on whether Cafcass was right or wrong. However, if you feel you have been unfairly treated then you can complain, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 10-Feb-17 @ 12:36 PM
Cafcass carried out a report on myself and my partner due to an allegation his son made that I hit him, they accessed my medical findings relating to hospital admissions due to overdoses and disclosed it all to the other party with out any of my consent or permission. Are they allowed to do this, share my personal information without even asking me!
Sarah - 9-Feb-17 @ 7:31 PM
My life is turning upside down...My ex took out a non molestation order because I wouldn't show her my phone and got me removed from house. That was a month ago...we have two young children 1 and 2.We went to court where she lied and made things worse so I couldn't see kids because she said I needed supervised visits or I couldn't have kids.I left court devastated but she contacted me within an hour and she admitted was wrong.I have seen kids at my parents house a few times sticking to her rules, and she also filled in a form to get orders quashed with my a letter from me...we thought could start to sort out our lives again best for kids...but because of my violent past 8 years ago and how she brought it all up it when she was angry to get the order... cafcass have now got involved and have to told her to stop me seeing kids as i'm a danger to them....this is totally unbelievable...and now she is not willing to tell the cafcass or court she made things up as she thinks shell get in trouble...i've rung the court and the judge has seen our request and denied it to be quashed and wants to set a date to see us...my head is all over the place...I just want to see my kids....this all over a mobile phone and her using my past against me.............any advice anybody please!!
daz - 2-Feb-17 @ 11:53 AM
Carcass lie, they recommended councilling for me saying it would help, they were trying to make me look weak. Do not trust them, they back the mother regardless, they won't let you record the meetings, why not, cause they lie. They did 3 home visits to my ex's house but none to mine, I asked why and they said it would be a waste of time, work that out. They also twist what you say when they do the final report to court. If possible keep them out
Pas - 7-Jan-17 @ 5:25 PM
What contact can I have with grandchildren. An what are my rights
Armstrong - 4-Jan-17 @ 7:53 PM
What contact can I get to my grandchildren
Nanny - 4-Jan-17 @ 7:50 PM
My CAFCASS officer took it upon herself to bring my ex's partner to the contact centre on the day im seeing my son. My questions were shut down and i was asked to leave the building because i thought it was wrong for the officer to do that and it confused my son as to who his father is. Even my solicitors agreed amongst other things. We complained by way sending a complaint letter to CAFCASS. The officer was so angry that she gave a really bad report, that i had such bad interaction with my son and he is in a family unit with mother and partner and my son should not be taken out of that to know me. She insist that i should send gift and cards but not tell my son of this amongst other things. She contacted the legal aid department and i received a letter saying i have no prospect of sucess so my legal aid is cut forthwith. This was a week before i had to go to court to get full acess. I lost my son because of a CAFCASS officer personal feelings when they should be netural. Now i am stuck. Can you help?
Trini - 28-Dec-16 @ 10:26 PM
My CAFCASS officer took it upon herself to bring my ex's partner to the contact centre on the day im seeing my son. My questions were shut down and i was asked to leave the building because i thought it was wrong for the officer to do that and it confused my son as to who his father is. Even my solicitors agreed amongst other things. We complained by way sending a complaint letter to CAFCASS. The officer was so angry that she gave a really bad report, that i had such bad interaction with my son and he is in a family unit with mother and partner and my son should not be taken out of that to know me. She insist that i should send gift and cards but not tell my son of this amongst other things. She contacted the legal aid department and i received a letter saying i have no prospect of sucess so my legal aid is cut forthwith. This was a week before i had to go to court to get full acess. I lost my son because of a CAFCASS officer personal feelings when they should be netural. Now i am stuck. Can you help?
Trini - 28-Dec-16 @ 1:30 PM
im like a lot of fathers just want to see my children yet everything changed when my ex wife met someone else threats emotional abuse in front of my 7 yr daughter they even made faulse allegations about me 8 months on bail dropped and although children services stated they belive mother could be making mallicious allegations .its been 14 months since seeing children they state love there dad have no fears or problems with me .got to court c100 and c1a form ex pulled a last attempt to stop me saying she belived i was mentally ill of which ive just had medical and passed so up hers.the court hearing was like a coffee morning with dame edna everage lol can she stop me feb 17 new court ive no criminal convictions yet ex wife has so does her partner
EQUAL RIGHTS FOR FAT - 20-Nov-16 @ 8:41 PM
Wacko - Your Question:
Looking for some advice where possible. My ex wife and I have been through the courts with CAFCASS involvement and whilst the outcome was very positive in my favour, she is still being nothing but un-cooperative, especially where schooling is concerned. She will manipulate a situation or the children at every available opportunity and I'm at my wits end. The general hygiene of the children is also becoming a concern as well as the constant name calling she insists on feeding them. Is there a way to make these issues highlighted to somebody so some form of complaint/ action can be done? The emotional well being of my children is being damaged and it needs to stop!Many thanks.

Our Response:
You would really need to speak with your legal adviser regarding this matter, especially if the CAFCASS report has been done. If you feel there is some serious neglect going on, please see NSPCC link here.
SeparatedDads - 19-Oct-16 @ 11:02 AM
Looking for some advice where possible. My ex wife and I have been through the courts with CAFCASS involvement and whilst the outcome was very positive in my favour, she is still being nothing but un-cooperative, especially where schooling is concerned. She will manipulate a situation or the children at every available opportunity and I'm at my wits end. The general hygiene of the children is also becoming a concern as well as the constant name calling she insists on feeding them. Is there a way to make these issues highlighted to somebody so some form of complaint/ action can be done? The emotional well being of my children is being damaged and it needs to stop! Many thanks.
Wacko - 18-Oct-16 @ 1:14 PM
andy jacques - Your Question:
I'm going through the courts to get contact with my daughter as I'm not on her birth certificate as my ex is evil she lies threatens to hurt my daughter and as beat me up abused me etc is there anything I can do to protect my daughter from her

Our Response:
I'm afraid you can only go through the court process to get access to your daughter and report any threats you personally receive to the police. Please see NSPCC link here regarding safeguarding issues.
SeparatedDads - 12-Oct-16 @ 11:33 AM
I'm going through the courts to get contact with my daughter as I'm not on her birth certificate as my ex is evil she lies threatens to hurt my daughter and as beat me up abused me etc is there anything I can do to protect my daughter from her
andy - 11-Oct-16 @ 3:46 PM
Currently in middle of section 7 report.Have restraining order against ex until sep next year.Ex never had our child (3.5 yrs old) overnight or longer than 3 hours on his own.Do you think Cafcass will be recommending overnight contact whilst restraining order in place? If we end up using contact centre for handovers they are only open Saturday's so in my opinion it's not even an option, ESP as there are no third parties who could be involved.I really would not be happy if my child was forced to go by the courts when not ready for it and also this RO in place.Any advice appreciated
Narc-victim - 7-Oct-16 @ 10:22 PM
Hi there, please note that judge ordered a S7 report but due to the fact that no information and fast track court cases at that claustrophobic hallways of East London Family Court, I need to post-pone the CAFCASS report; as my ex has raised hell of false accusations against me and currently under Police investigation based on her false claim; There is no concern about my daughter's life as she's grown up 6 yrs old and happy; but the judge was very wrong and ordered a S7 report without any reason/concern; Can I ask the court to postpone the court date as currently raised DV/Non Molestation Order against my ex? My ex did not mention any grounds of concerns about health safety in her claim, but feminist judge Sarah Davies ignored my questions/ avoided my questions about false allegations and ordered me to remain silent as the 3 women in court (CAFCASS OFFICER was female, also!!!) were discussing between themselves; Avoid this fast track East London Family Court as no one helps there in reception, the orders are always biased towards women!!! lLast week, District Judge Sarah Davies(who is a self-declared feminist, rude and in-competent judge that does not respect respondent fathers) shoed her style so ridiculuously ! She always looks to he left what the CAFCASS officer nods and just follows their instructions! The whole fast track family court in East London (CANARY WHARF) IS RIDICULOUS SCARY AND I URGE ALL FATHERS TO AVOID AT ANY CONDITION BY FOLLOWING THE POSTCODE RULE (OUT OF REACH BY THIS SHAMELESS COURT).
Accused Falsely - 3-Oct-16 @ 3:12 AM
What age does cafcass listen to what children want? Will they be made to see people they don't want too?
Addyex - 29-Sep-16 @ 7:45 PM
Hi I've been split up with my ex wife for getting on 4 years now but she still trying her hardest to ruin yet another relationship of mine. I'm cleared to have my son but she is phone ofsted andsocial services on my partner who is pregnant what's not good as it effects her job and she was cleared to before. The same think happened with my ex girl so there's a pattern I just don't know what the best actions are to take.
Andy - 23-Sep-16 @ 1:42 PM
Paul - Your Question:
I'm divorced from my Exwife, I've been with a new partner for 18 months. My Exwife wouldn't let me introduce my children to her until she meet her, but every time I tried to get her to meet my partner she got funny and always had something else to do. So I introduced the kids to my partner, she stopped me seeing the kids unless I'm on my own. Is there anything I can do so I can keep seeing my kids with my partner From paul

Our Response:
I can only advice that you suggest mediation to your ex in order to try and resolve the situation, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here. If your ex refuses, then you would have the option to take the matter to court. The court will decide on what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. Taking the leap to push the matter further is always a difficult decision and the courts will prefer you to have considered mediation first. Therefore, some legal advice in the first instance may help (if you cannot afford legal representation in court, then you can self litigate, please see link here ). Our Separated Dads Forum may also help, as many other dads have been through similar issues and can advise.
SeparatedDads - 4-Aug-16 @ 10:09 AM
I'm divorced from my Exwife, I've been with a new partner for 18 months. My Exwife wouldn't let me introduce my children to her until she meet her, but every time I tried to get her to meet my partner she got funny and always had something else to do. So I introduced the kids to my partner, she stopped me seeing the kids unless I'm on my own . Is there anything I can do so I can keep seeing my kids with my partner From paul
Paul - 3-Aug-16 @ 8:13 AM
Gary - Your Question:
What happends if the mother never shows up for court to get a cafcass report? My son is severaly disabled I havent seen him for 2 years.The ex didnt show up for the 1st court apperance the second is soon and cafcass still hasnt spoke to her.

Our Response:
The mother can only avoid the court process for so long. If she continues not to attend, she can either be summoned, or the court will make a decision in her absence.
SeparatedDads - 27-Jul-16 @ 12:38 PM
What happends if the mother never shows up for court to get a cafcass report? My son is severaly disabled I havent seen him for 2 years. The ex didnt show up for the 1st court apperance the second is soon and cafcass still hasnt spoke to her.
Gary - 23-Jul-16 @ 4:32 PM
Why is it that a lot of caffcass employees are female personally I think it gives mums an unfair advantage. last time I delt withcaffcass I felt the woman judge me instantly and believed my ex's lies...even though the courts didn't and I get exactly what I asked for in weekend costody
Mm - 29-Jun-16 @ 1:17 PM
Lotte - Your Question:
I Have a 5 Week Old Daughter I Have Been Allowed To See My Baby When Her Mother and I Where a Item But as It was On & Off For Nearly The Whole Time Baby Joined The World. But Of Late It Seems That Our Relationship Has Faded Due To Arguments & Just Neadless Bickering. I Have Not Seen My Daughter Since Sunday My 1st Fathers Day!! I am a Hardworking Man With Morales & Respect Toward Others I Am a Loving & Careing Man I Know That There Is Absoloutley No Reasons Or Anything Why I Should Be Denied My Little Angel I Have Looked At Legal Roots But With Her Only 5 Weeks Old I am Unsure But It Is Killing Me & I Need To See My Daughter. please if Anyone Has Advice Or Suggestions I am More Than Listening.Thank You S.E

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your ex continues to refuse you access then I advise you suggest mediation in the first instance of as a way of trying to resolve the issue, please see link: Mediation: What is it and is it For Me? here . If your ex refuses, then you may benefit from taking some legal advice regarding taking the matter to court, please see link: When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, here and you would have to go through the procedure laid out in the article. If you cannot afford the hefty legal fees, please see link here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-16 @ 2:19 PM
Smithy - Your Question:
My step daughter is being kept away from her dad without his consent since the divorce 7 years ago he has tried everything to compromise even written letters from solicitors but she never sticks to it. All the agreements either on her terms or nothing at all. She is using my step daughter against her dad and other brothers and sisters at every opportunity every year it gets worse and worse.What are his rights? He is thinking of getting the social involved now please help.

Our Response:
The father of your step-daughter would have the opportunity to take the matter to court if he wished to apply for access.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jun-16 @ 11:38 AM
I Have a 5 Week Old Daughter I Have Been Allowed To See My Baby When Her Mother and i Where a Item But as It was On & Off For Nearly The Whole Time Baby Joined The World. But Of Late It Seems That Our Relationship Has Faded Due To Arguments & Just Neadless Bickering. I Have Not Seen My Daughter Since Sunday My 1st Fathers Day!! I am a Hardworking Man With Morales & Respect Toward Others I Am a Loving & Careing Man I Know That There Is Absoloutley No Reasons Or Anything Why I Should Be Denied My Little Angel I Have Looked At Legal Roots But With Her Only 5 Weeks Old I am Unsure But It Is Killing Me & I Need To See My Daughter. please if Anyone Has Advice Or Suggestions I am More Than Listening. Thank You S.E
Lotte - 22-Jun-16 @ 9:47 PM
My step daughter is being kept away from her dad without his consent since the divorce 7 years ago he has tried everything to compromise even written letters from solicitors but she never sticks to it. All the agreements either on her terms or nothing at all. She is using my step daughter against her dadand other brothers and sisters at every opportunity every year it gets worse and worse. What are his rights? He is thinking of getting the social involved now please help.
Smithy - 22-Jun-16 @ 3:23 PM
my younger child has been refused to attend the same school as her older sibling as a result I have moved out of the catchment area by 0.4 miles I have tried appealing and offering that her dad exercise his right to register our child which the education authorities have refused stating he cant and has no right to im looking for advice and supporting facts against this matter allowing her dad to exercise his legal rights
linnie - 16-Jun-16 @ 11:24 AM
Black - Your Question:
I am getting a cafcass section 7 report done cafcass have spoken to me my ex and my 10 year Child they are dew to have a home visit can I record this interview by law as I think the officer has miss lead my child

Our Response:
Cafcass has no specific recording policy and from what I can gather it is judged on a case by case basis. However, please see the Freedom Of Information request and response by the link here. While it may not fully answer your question, it can give you an indication of the Cafcass stance.
SeparatedDads - 2-Jun-16 @ 2:46 PM
I am getting a cafcass section 7report done cafcass have spoken to me my ex and my 10 year Child they are dew to have a home visit can I record this interview by law as I think the officer has miss lead my child
Black - 2-Jun-16 @ 3:23 AM
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