A woman and young schoolgirl holding hands, on zebra crossing

When relationships break down, despite best efforts to find a solution for the children to share the time they spend with their parents, sometimes this is not easy. Often despite the best of intentions of looking for an agreement, this is not possible, and the help of the court may need to be sought.

Applications can vary from those looking at resolving when a child spends time with their non-resident parent, with whom the child should live, or more specific situations such as schooling and holidays.

When faced with an application to the court, which should always be the last resort, the Court will often seek input from Cafcass, the agency that represents children in family court cases in England and Wales. Cafcass stands for Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service.

Cafcass’s aim, is to put the 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. Cafcass operates within the law set by Parliament (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000) and under the rules and directions of the family courts, and is independent of the courts, social services, education and health authorities and all similar agencies. Cafcass’s duty is to safeguard and promote the welfare of children going through the family justice system.

As well as helping inform the court in disputes between parents in Private Law arrangements, they will also play more significant roles in Public Law proceedings, where the Local Authority may have significant concerns about the welfare and safety of children. Cafcass also advise the court in relation to adoption cases, and in each scenario, aim to provide the court with advice as to what is in a child’s best interests.

At Stephens Scown  we have a team of specialists in dealing with cases concerning children, involving Cafcass. Not only do we have vast experience of acting for parents, but we also regularly represent children on instructions from CAFCASS where the officer may be appointed as a child’s Guardian. If you believe that we may be able to help, please do get in touch with us.