Who are CAFCASS?
The Child and Family Courts Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) provide a valuable insight into a child’s world for judges who are having to decide the arrangements for a child when parents separate.
Judges rarely meet children involved in court proceedings, the prevailing view being that children should not come to an intimidating and frightening environment such as a court, but someone has to find out what a child’s view is and how a child is feeling. CAFCASS is the body responsible for this.
Generally staffed by social work trained officers, the organisation is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies. Where appointed by a judge, a friendly CAFASS officer will meet with a child and, using age appropriate games and techniques, assess the child’s feelings. If a child is aged ten or above his or her wishes about arrangements are drawn out and CAFCASS will write a report to help the judge make the best possible decision.
For more information about the work of CAFCASS see cafcass.gov.uk.
Nicola Furmston is a solicitor and head of the Family team at Barker Gotelee.