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What Goes into the Cafcass Family Report?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 3 Jul 2018 | 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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i want nothing to do with my child what so ever .can my ex make me or get police involved and social workers for not wanting anything to do with her ?. am i breaking any laws ?i have pr .like the mother never applied for child support must have her reasons .i just want to cover myself and not break any laws .your advice please?
chris laurie - 3-Jul-18 @ 9:22 PM
@he-is-breathing-.if my child ever come to see I would slam the door in her face .thats how long it’s been .that is my thinking .my girlfriend try’s to make me see a different way I just don’t see it or get or thinking and but me onto blog about this stuff .if I am completely honest I say I see it to please her .she doesn’t no my x but my x trash gods truth if see her in the street you would the other way you wouldn’t want to be tried it but you can’t say those things to women they get upset .
Chris - 3-Jul-18 @ 8:24 PM
@is -he- breathing-.you be right mate .i tell you something none of my family or friends see there kids from there x girlfriends gods truth .its normal in my circle.my x thought she was sneaky .once she left that was it I harassed her to change number to break all ties .she was just praying I would get a solicitor but that was never going to happen .her thinking and my thinking are completely different.she is the mother it’s her job not mine .she thought I would take the child because her sister told her that because the guy of lured her away was heavy into drugs .my thinking was that’s her problem not mine .
Chris - 3-Jul-18 @ 8:04 PM
@is_he_breathing- that's awful. I hope when they are old enough in a few years (I know that's not much consolation) but at least then they can decide for themselves :(
Jaxc - 3-Jul-18 @ 2:31 PM
CAFCASS came to my house to see me and my children and it was the last time I saw my children. We did an Easter egg hunt, made Easter eggs, went bowling in the afternoon but the children had miserable faces, my ex wife had kept them up all night. They were irritable and are very negative towards me (parental alienation?). Age 11. CAFCASS recommend it is not appropriate for me to be near them. I intimidate them, bad influence and not happy. I feel like I invited a wrecking ball into our home. We played some word games, CAFCASS officer reported I was belittling her. I had a timetable of activities, cafcass reported I was too ridgid and structured. Children bit off, thats because they are scared of me. There wasn't a single positive. Maybe I should have just gone down to MacDonalds and sat outside smoking weed. I love my children and 10 years of struggling to get contact (=10 years being denied it), constant broken court orders and now they've gone. Its heartbreaking.
is_he_breathing - 3-Jul-18 @ 9:36 AM
I'm fighting for resedency of my children at present they are with me and are doing well at school butI met another parent who had a child in the same special needs class as one of my children but he made a statement in school that needed to be investigated by the police and relevant services and we split up but now she has made contact again and has made it clear that wants to come back as the allegations have been proven to be false Now I know my ex wife will want a safeguarding check done and although it's going to be fine I don't want to have to add this to the on going case Will it have to be a cafcass one or one that can be done ourselves
Hidden agenda - 26-Jun-18 @ 9:00 PM
I first took my ex to court in November 2017 for contact as she had stopped it yet again I got granted contact but had to go back as disagreement on travel arrangements. I met my new partner and I started staying at hers on a weekend also so I was close so I didn’t have to travel when I had my contact anyways the children’s mother didn’t like the idea of me being with someone else and made lies up in court stating I wasn’t consistent enough and it was effecting the children’s education but a couple weeks prior I spoke to my child’s head teacher to ask how she was doing in school etc and was told she was a very hard worker very pleasant always asking for more work to do and wished they had more children like her but cause the mother told the courts that the education was falling due to my contact or my consistency and asked the courts to stop my contact. So the clerk asked the woman from cafcass as she said that there are no safeguarding issues at all however since the children’s mother has stated that the education has fallen I would recommend that the contact should be stopped... is there anything I can do about this as my ex is a very convincing compulsive liar
Mick - 14-Apr-18 @ 4:44 AM
Hi, My soon to be ex wife is making my time with my children very difficult, she pre arranges what and where I should take them prior to my collecting, she calls them many times when in my care saying she misses them which makes them feel guilty about being with me. she tries to make me feel like a hated person when I'm collecting my boys from there school. its becoming unbearable, I have a court arrangement in place. I have ad to block her emails and her mobile but have left her landline so she can contact the boys when I have them. she seems to have this control issue and demands I do this and that with words like immediately! I love my children very much and I'm so worried she is using them to hurt me.
LOUIS SILK - 4-Mar-18 @ 10:27 PM
Great dad being brok - Your Question:
Hi I want to know when you have first court appearance and cafcass officer see you is this meant to be one on one only with no other peopme to to be present as my ex has collaborated with another to fabricate false accusations to police which have been dropped with no further action which was designed just so my ex could claim lefal aid but on my court appearance I believe my ex had requested my other ex to sit in on the cafcass meeting and she also tried to make herslef a mckenzie friend which I was able to reject her coming in the room as a person with a personal interest in the case I just beed clarification on the cafcass officers dealings so I can complain about the treatmebt I recieved as the cafcass officer tried to speak on my behalf and when I asked the judges somrthing she attempted to cut me off and I told you dont speak for me you are not my solicitor and I believe she is now hindering me getting access to my child. Any ideas on what I can do in this situation.

Our Response:
You may wish to join and ask this question via our Separated Dads forum, as we don't have any knowledge of how Cafcass works from an insider's/court point of view.
SeparatedDads - 15-Feb-18 @ 10:31 AM
Hi i want to know when you have first court appearance and cafcass officer see you is this meant to be one on one only with no other peopme to to be present as my ex has collaborated with another to fabricate false accusations to police which have been dropped with no further action which was designed just so my ex could claim lefal aid but on my court appearance i believe my ex had requested my other ex to sit in on the cafcass meeting and she also tried to make herslef a mckenzie friend which i was able to reject her coming in the room as a person with a personal interest in the case i just beed clarification on the cafcass officers dealings so i can complain about the treatmebt i recieved as the cafcass officer tried to speak on my behalf and when i asked the judges somrthing she attempted to cut me off and i told you dont speak for me you are not my solicitor and i believe she is now hindering me getting access to my child. Any ideas on what i can do in this situation.
Great dad being brok - 14-Feb-18 @ 1:27 PM
Stu - Your Question:
Can a CAFCASS report be challenged? When I met with CAFCASS I said to my solicitor that I felt that they had already sided with my ex-wife and I have just received the report, most of what I spoke about seems to have been omitted. There seems to be lots of mention of the parents being hostile to one another (which is bad for our son), yet all of this has been generated by my ex. There has been no mention of the threats, verbal abuse that I've been on the receiving end of, the manipulating and controlling behaviour and generally putting our son in the middle of thing that are for adults. I've tried to make things as amicable as possible, paying for nursery costs when I wasn't obliged to do so, and even a holiday on one occasion.I filed to the court for 50:50, she counter filed a month later that I have our son every other weekend and one night for dinner. CAFCASS' one sided report is now supporting her, which makes me think what have I done!?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Cafcass link here. Unfortunately, we cannot comment on individual cases. I will put your question to our Separated Dads Facebook members to see whether they may be able to help, please see link here, for your answers.
SeparatedDads - 2-Feb-18 @ 11:10 AM
Can a CAFCASS report be challenged? When I met with CAFCASS I said to my solicitor that I felt that they had already sided with my ex-wife and I have just received the report, most of what I spoke about seems to have been omitted. There seems to be lots of mention of the parents being hostile to one another (which is bad for our son), yet all of this has been generated by my ex. There has been no mention of the threats, verbal abuse that I've been on the receiving end of, the manipulating and controlling behaviour and generally putting our son in the middle of thing that are for adults. I've tried to make things as amicable as possible, paying for nursery costs when I wasn't obliged to do so, and even a holiday on one occasion.I filed to the court for 50:50, she counter filed a month later that I have our son every other weekend and one night for dinner. CAFCASS' one sided report is now supporting her, which makes me think what have I done!?
Stu - 1-Feb-18 @ 12:50 PM
Key - Your Question:
Hi my ex and I spilt up before my daughter was born His seen her few times not provide at all. Resently I found out his not what he said he was He told me he was 33 year old man But his passport and birth certificate says his 44 his changed his name 3 times in 3 years. I don’t know who this man is. He won’t tell me and now his taking me to court and telling me he will get legal right as his not on birth certificate Is this true? Will the judge not looking into his past and ask who he is. As he said you wouldn’t. I found out he had ccj and now his changed his name again his manged to wipe his history clear and start again! He passport says one age and his Facebook friends says his another. I don’t know who he is We was only together 3 months when I fell pregnant Please help I worried as if he can change his name get passport in different ages etc what says he won’t run off with my daughter Please help Will the court grant him legal rights etc

Our Response:
In this instance, if you are unsure who this man is, he could be committing fraud or have something to hide on some level, so it is worth gathering all the information you have and approaching the police on an informal level. If he is not on the birth certificate, then he currently has no rights to your child. If you bring the fact up in court that you don't know his proper identity, then you can use this as an objection. Plus, the fact he has changed his names various times and you have had to try to track his real identity via the police.
SeparatedDads - 22-Jan-18 @ 10:05 AM
Hi my ex and I spilt up before my daughter was born His seen her few times not provide at all. Resently I found out his not what he said he was He told me he was 33 year old man But his passport and birth certificate says his 44 his changed his name 3 times in 3 years. I don’t know who this man is. He won’t tell me and now his taking me to court and telling me he will get legal right as his not on birth certificate Is this true? Will the judge not looking into his past and ask who he is. As he said you wouldn’t. I found out he had ccj and now his changed his name again his manged to wipe his history clear and start again! He passport says one age and his Facebook friends says his another. I don’t know who he is We was only together 3 months when I fell pregnant Please help I worried as if he can change his name get passport in different ages etc what says he won’t run off with my daughter Please help Will the court grant him legal rights etc
Key - 21-Jan-18 @ 3:24 PM
Please can anyone help with this? I have a court order for contact for a few hours during week, 10 hours every Sun and 1 sleepover 1st Sat every month however over the past 5 years my ex has allowed me so much more. From August 2016 till May 2017 my children had 103 sleepovers as well as spending 4 hours with them 3 days par week. From May until September she tried to sell family home but I was not allowed to sign it over as it was classed as an asset in my IVA so all contact was hit and miss. I applied to have order enforced but on First hearing she filed a huge list of reasons why contact should be stopped.All lies as I have recordings of her asking kids if they want to spend 2 weeks with me from 20th August and several others asking similar. My question Can this recording be used as evidence to prove when it suits I can have loads of contact?
Fred - 28-Nov-17 @ 6:33 AM
Hi i need help at the moment my children r spending time in a contact centre with their dad. We have only had two sessions I think his doing OK but we are having problems with the centre its self. On these two sessions we have has incidents first one was they let the father see me, which isn't allowed then they left my kids alone with him in a room for 30-1min which also isn't allowed. As its meant to be supervised but we have had other problems to we have trouble getting are interview and contact plan info off them we was told we would get it and the order says so to . we don't think they noted are stuff down . the question I wanted to ask is was contact meant to start . we was told not til we had this Info coz there are risks with suisdie. And his got an heart condition to and a drink problem we r not sure if he still has thatwhich his not open about either . and I don't think the centre has taken this serious either . I fell this centre is not professional in any waywe have nothing but trouble from them and I don't fell my kids are safe their
lottie - 21-Nov-17 @ 5:21 PM
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
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