If your case is referred to us by the courts, we will provide the information needed for a safe decision to be made about the arrangements for your children. We will try to help you and the other adult (who is called a party) reach a safe agreement about your children.
Cafcass can only become involved in a case at the request of the court.
After the court has received the application from either you or the other party, the court will usually refer the case to us.
We are running pilots in some areas to help signpost parents to appropriate services.
Before the first hearing, we will usually do the following:
This phone call may be made close to the hearing date, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from us immediately after receiving our introductory letter.
The aim of the first hearing is to see whether it is possible for you and the other party to make a safe agreement about your children which the court can then endorse.
There will usually be a Cafcass worker at the court who will often be asked by the court to meet separately with you and the other party to try to help you reach an agreement and to find out:
If you and the other party can reach an agreement, and the court is satisfied that this is safe and in your children’s best interests, it may be possible to end the process at this stage by making a ‘consent order’.
If you are not able to agree, or there are concerns about the welfare of your children, the court may:
The court will make the final decision about what should happen to your children after reading the Cafcass worker’s report and listening to what you and other people in the case have said.
The court will pay particular attention to your children’s wishes and feelings but may not always do what your children want.
The court will make a decision based on what it thinks is best for your children. The court’s decision is set out in a ‘court order’ which you must stick to.
If you are not happy with the court’s decision, you must raise this at court – you cannot make a complaint to us about the court’s decision.
Throughout the whole process the Cafcass worker will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Working with you and your children - our video featuring other parents and Cafcass workers
Putting your children first - our divorce and separation factsheet
Support and advice for families going through divorce or separation