Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.
Cafcass represents children in family court cases in England. They put children’s needs, wishes and feelings first, making sure that children’s voices are heard at the heart of the family court setting, and that decisions are made in their best interests. Operating within the law set by Parliament (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) and under the rules and directions of the family courts, we are independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies.
Their duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family law proceedings. Their Family Court Advisers may be asked by the court to work with families and then advise the court on what we consider to be the best interests of the children involved in three main areas:
1/. divorce and separation, sometimes called ‘private law’, where parents or carers can’t agree on arrangements for their children
2/. care proceedings, sometimes called ‘public law’, where social services have serious concerns about the safety or welfare of a child
3/. adoption, which can be either public or private law
What is a Section 7 report?
A Section 7 report is a report written by a CAFCASS worker or a social worker from the Local Authority in cases where an application has been made to the Court under Section 8 of The Children Act 1989.
A Section 7 report is ordered by the Court when they want information about a child’s welfare, what is best for the child and sometimes where there are certain risk factors or concerns raised in relation to a child, parent or other relative. A CAFCASS worker or social worker will provide an independent assessment of a situation and will report these findings to the Court. The Court usually stipulates what they want the worker to focus on in their report.
What will a Section 7 Report contain?
A Section 7 report needs to contain all background information, key facts and evidence that the needs of the child have been considered in accordance with the Welfare Checklist. The report will set out the child’s wishes and feelings and what the CAFCASS officer social worker considers to be in the best interest of the child.
The person who prepares the report may speak to the child (depending on their age and understanding) about their wishes and feelings and what they would like to happen. They will also spend time with both parties and listen to any concerns they may have. They may also speak to other people such as family members, teachers and health workers. They will not ask the child to make a decision or to choose between either parent as to who they will live with and any contact they will have with the non-resident parent.
I’m not happy with the Section 7 report, what can I do?
If you do not agree with the report it is important that you let the Court know your concerns. The judge will consider your concerns when making a decision.
Who makes the final decision?
After reading the report and listening to what you and other people in the case have said the Court will make the final decision about what should happen to your children. The Court will make the decision based on what is best for the child. It will take into account their wishes and feelings but the order may not be in accordance with the child’s wishes and feelings if this is not considered to be in their best interests. The decision will be set out in a Court Order which you must comply with.
At Ask Montgomery we have a dedicated family and care team. If you have any further questions on Section 7 Reports and require legal advice please contact the office on 0203 4884 775.