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What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 12 Sep 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.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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Gee - Your Question:
Hiya I have 16months baby girl. I have just started the process to see baby. I'm bit confused about cafcass report. Does casfass has authority to deny to see my baby. I'm paying child mentainance as well. My wife alligated but police prove it out that they were wrong, I been arrtested by my own and realised with out any charge.

Our Response:
As specified in the article; '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.' Here is an example to a case study link here which gives an example of the role Cafcass plays.
SeparatedDads - 15-Sep-17 @ 12:31 PM
Hiya I have 16months baby girl. I have just started the process to see baby. I'm bit confused about cafcass report. Does casfass has authority to deny to see my baby. I'm paying child mentainance as well. My wife alligated but police prove it out that they were wrong, I been arrtested by my own and realised with out any charge.
Gee - 12-Sep-17 @ 10:18 PM
if i have major concerns about the people around my son do i have the right to ask for there med records an drug test like i have to proven
real dads fight - 5-Sep-17 @ 3:18 PM
im having supervised visits now after a student cascaff said i have mental helth after a 30 min phone call took another 9 weeks b4 i see our chiled. i had a section 7 yesterday and all she asked was what she said. the court asked me to go to a drug worker what i have done been cleane every time. but the cascaff just would not by what i was saying she said and i was honest all the way i was there for 1 hour and 40 mins and i left feeling like a scumbag so i see my key worker today and he said he will come with me as the judge asked me to do this will he be asked questions about me next time in court, im getting really good reports from the contact centre, will the judge listen to the pros i have got along the way as the cascaff made it clear it will be supervised for 6 months ? the risk she said is drink and drugs but they dont test you there so i can go out do what i want turn up and no one will no of course i aint gonna but why so long so it means ill see him for 30 hours over one year. even when i proved she was a lying she still belived her ? there is so much more to say
real dads fight - 1-Sep-17 @ 3:01 PM
Patricia - Your Question:
Hello. My son has just turned 4, he is petrified to go to his dads house says he hits him and when I mention it makes him self sick. My ex was very abusive mentally and verbally and also threatening he was sectioned against his will and is only interested in having my son to spite me. My son does not want to go and has meltdowns every time I mention it wetting bed and all sorts will a court make him go ?

Our Response:
You don't say whether there is a court order in place. However, even if there is if your son is being physically abused you can stop access. Your ex will then have the option to apply to court. As stated in the article interviews will take place. We cannot predict what a court may decide on the back of these interviews. However, as in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 1-Sep-17 @ 10:49 AM
Hello. My son has just turned 4, he is petrified to go to his dads house says he hits him and when I mention it makes him self sick. My ex was very abusive mentally and verbally and also threatening he was sectioned against his will and is only interested in having my son to spite me. My son does not want to go and has meltdowns every time I mention it wetting bed and all sorts will a court make him go ?
Patricia - 31-Aug-17 @ 2:54 PM
@George - thanks for this advice. It's good advice especially from where I am standing currently. It has given me confidence to possibly take it to court as up to now I have been too scared. Adam.
AJ - 21-Aug-17 @ 2:12 PM
I just want to let all fighting fathers out there that a CAFCASS report is not the end of the world. You can to the judge and challenge the report if you feel it has been conducted unfairly. My case is somehow different to many on here as it involves the mother wanting to permanetly remove our son from the UK and take him to another country. A few months ago a CAFCASS report was produced which was not fit for purpose. It was unbiased on many fronts and recommended that the mother should be given permission to take our son. I challenged the contents of the report and the way it was conducted, and my barrister put up a very good fight. Suprisingly the Judge also outrightly agreed that the CAFCASS report was not fit for purpose and when the time come to a final hearing, the reporter must come to court and explain her self for compilling such a report and not following the courts guidlines. Not only did the judge order a new report, CAFCASS were also taken out of the case completely and the judge ordered that a new body should carry out the new report, and that CAFCASS should not be involved in anyway whatsoever. Not all judges will implement CAFCASS recommendations if you can argue that the report is a complete whitewash. You must never give up fighting for your son or daughter, and I know that the mothers already have an advantage simply because they are mothers, however the law has somehow changed to only reflect the best outcome for the child and not necessarily what the mother wants, so atleast now as fathers, we also have a chance in the family court. I have been fighting in the family court since the begining of the year, and i dont wish to go into the full background of my particular case online as it would not be fair on the mother, but I will fight until the end. Im hopefull that this new body ordered to conduct the report, will atleast take an unbiased position when writting the report. Even if the report is not in my favour, the most important aspect is fairness. Fathers also deserve to have a fair hearing in the family courts. The idea that only the mother knows what is best for a child and is best equiped to look after a child following a breaking, is wrong and I hope that as the law is gradually changing, mother and father will be on an equal footing in the family court. I have learnt alot these past few months, and I encourage all fathers to always fight for what you believe in. If your child grows up, he/she will know that you tried your best. One thing I would recommend to fighting fathers out there, is not to appear to be attacking the mother personally. Always stay focused on the child. Even if the mother makes wild accusasions about you, you should always stay respectful towards her, afterall she is the mother of your child. It is important that all your energy is focused on the wellbeing of the child. So whenever you make a statement, please refraine from attacking the mother, calling her names etc. I k
George - 20-Aug-17 @ 6:21 PM
Shan - Your Question:
Can I have my kids for 2 weeks during the summer holidays if I live 100 miles away I've had them before but now for some reason ex is now saying it's to far what rights do I have ??

Our Response:
If you and your children's other parent can't agree, then you would have to either go through mediation or court. The court will decide what it thinks is in your children's best interests.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jul-17 @ 2:26 PM
Can I have my kids for 2 weeks during the summer holidays if I live 100 miles away I've had them before but now for some reason ex is now saying it's to far what rights do I have ??
Shan - 30-Jul-17 @ 6:05 PM
I was recently interviewed by a CAFCASS officer and during the interview he told me he would be recommending that my ex-wife have the children for more of the week than I.We have had a 50-50 arrangement operating for the past 7 months but my ex-wife is applying for full custody Is this procedurally appropriate. George
GB - 7-Jul-17 @ 7:19 PM
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
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