What is CAFCASS?

When the Court becomes involved in a dispute concerning children, resolution of the issues can be delayed and the process itself stressful. In fact, Court proceedings in relation to children should be a matter of last resort. However, if there are such proceedings, there will be a representative from CAFCASS.

CAFCASS stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.  CAFCASS represents children in the Family Court cases in England. They independently advise the Judge or Magistrates about what is safe for children and in their best interests. CAFCASS puts the children’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that their voices are heard and at the heart of the Family Court setting. Operating within the law set by Parliament (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) and under the rules and directions of the family courts, CAFCASS are independent of the Courts, social services, education and health authorities and all other similar agencies.

To assist those who are trying to resolve a dispute in child proceedings, CAFCASS have published a list of tips. This is part of its ambition to listen more carefully to what families say about their experiences of CAFCASS’s work with them. The tips aim to help separating parents think about what they can do to minimise the potentially damaging impact of separation and Court proceedings on their children. Their tips include:-

1) Court proceedings should be the last resort. Court can be expensive and parties may not achieve the desired outcome. Separated parents can resolve the issues through alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation.

2) When parents have good communication with each other, the child can see that they have their best interests at heart.

3) If your child is struggling emotionally, speak to professionals and seek support from their school or GP.

The full list of tips can be found here.

For any family issues, seeking legal advice as early as possible can help reduce stress and resolve matters without needing to involve the Court. Please speak to our Family Team in confidence to see if we can help.

Katherine Parker is a solicitor in the Family Department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Family Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email bg@barkergotelee.co.uk