What is a Section 7 Report? If court proceedings become necessary to resolve the arrangements for your children, the court will look to Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to help determine the best outcome.
The court recognises that parents are usually best placed to agree the most appropriate arrangements, but sometimes when agreement cannot be reached, it will direct that Cafcass prepares a report to the court, to provide the court with a recommendation for what is best for the children.
You will sometimes hear the report referred to in short as a “Cafcass report” or “Section 7 report” this refers to Section 7 of the Children Act 1989.
How is the Section 7 Report prepared?
The Court will usually allow for a period of eight weeks for the report to be prepared. This will involve an officer from Cafcass making enquiries that might include talking to your children (depending on their age and understanding) about their wishes and feelings and what they would like to happen. The Cafcass officer will usually talk to your children alone, often at a neutral venue such as at their school.
The Cafcass officer may also spend time with you and the other parent and listen to any concerns you might have. They may also speak to other people such as family members, teachers and health workers.
After making all of these enquiries, they will write a report advising the court on what they think should happen. In most cases you will be able to see the Cafcass report before the court hearing, so that you know what is being recommended.
Cafcass’s recommendations and the court
The Section 7 Report will include details of the interviews carried out and enquiries made by the Cafcass officer but most importantly a conclusion and recommendations to the court. The recommendations of Cafcass do not bind the court, however the court will need good reason not to follow Cafcass’s recommendations.
The court will pay particular attention to your children’s wishes and feelings, but the court may not always do what your children want. It will make its decision based on what it thinks is best for your children. If you are unhappy with or have concerns about the Section 7 Report, it is important that you let the court know how you feel.
We have a specialist team who are able to advise you in relation to Private Law children matters. If you feel that we may be able to help you, please do get in touch.