About the Family Law Week blog

The Family Law Week Blog is a companion site to Family Law Week. It complements the news, cases and articles published on Family Law Week with additional comment and coverage of the wider aspects of family law.

The Blog is edited by Jacqui Gilliatt, of 4 Brick Court and Lucy Reed, of St Johns Chambers.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Cafcass & fact finding

Speaking as one who is having enormous difficulties managing my own caseload I was interested to learn yesterday of a novel approach being adopted in the Stoke area to managing the deluge of cases in which domestic violence allegations are made and which would ordinarily be listed for a fact finding hearing. The pressure on the courts is such that Cafcass Officers are apparently being instructed to express an opinion on allegations and counter-allegations made by parents in order to assist the court and avoid the need for a hearing. In my view this is very dangerous territory. This is an effectively judicial function for which Cafcass Officers have no training and unless they are extremely careful they run the risk of making judgements without having the full facts or the skills to challenge the evidence being presented to them by one or other parent.

Has anyone else come across this approach in other parts of the country? The District Judge in the case in which the issue emerged expressed disapproval of the practice for reasons which will be obvious to family practitioners. He also picked up another important practice issue: the welfare checklist has been deleted from the new style analysis & recommendations pro forma with the obvious danger that the statutory criteria may end up being ignored by those charged with advising the court.

21 comments:

nojusticeforparents said...

I have evidence Cafcass in Staffordshire actually ignore domestic violence and refuse to liten to childrens accounts about it.They were branded inadequate in their last ofsted report.Shocking but is it ? Family courts are making up the rules as they go along anyway that is why they need to be opened up.

Lady Portia said...

http://thecrimereport.org/2010/05/06/failure-to-protect-the-crisis-in-america%E2%80%99s-family-courts/

This article is well written and points out how various agencies ignore domestic abuse and child abuse in family courts to the detriment of the children and the protective parent. Cafcass e mailed me to say that their policy is- ALL WOMEN MAKE UP DOMESTIC ABUSE- so they ignore it.
This is crazy, as social services and Cafcass and the courts have a duty to protect children and victims of DV. Camilla Cavendish wrote a brilliant article "Battered at home, Battered by the system" in which she explained how DV is ignored in family courts.

Professor Marianne Hester goes even further to show in her 3 planet illustration how Domestic terrorism is ignored because the abusers solicitor sidelines the proceedings in court to seek contact or say the victim is mad or some other nonsense and being skilled in the art of deceipt etc, the abuser runs rings around the judges, Cafcass agents, social workers etc. As an advocate, i see the same pattern day in and day out for 15 years.
It is the collective persecution of the strong females and innocent children as happened in the days of the Inquisition and the family court is the Torture Chamber.

Anonymous said...

I have just resigned from CAFCASS, for just one reason, ofsted targets, forget about the child, as long as paperwork is completed no one cares. Instead of spending time getting to know the child and family, officers are sat at computers. The duty system, safeguarding and screening cases that have been stacked for months, is appalling. In one case I know of four separate Guardian's attended court on a public law case, not one managed to see the child. Officers complained bitterly with respect to 'the child's needs' being omitted from the PLO, to no avail. Whilst I have not heard of the situation you describe happening anywhere else, nothing would surprise me! I have worked with CAFCASS officers who are caring, experienced and professional, but also frustrated, overworked and being de-skilled by the current system. Systematic bullying by service managers is rife. Believe me when I say, the Public, and in particular children, are not getting the service they so badly deserve and need, both in Public and Private law cases.

Anonymous said...

to all,

I am a father who is fighting against the system to get access to my daughter whom is 3 months old. I have had DV bought up as an argument and I feel it is a shameful thing that someone that I once loved can use such lies to control my access to my daughter.
Sadly no punishment will given to her once this is all resolved and the truth is out in the open however because I did not fit her lifestyle she made up these allegations and I am likely to miss the majority of my daughters 1st year.
Punishment needs to be applied on both sides to help genuine cases and deter bogus allegations.

Anonymous said...

Women are favoured in law courts over fathers even when they themselves are in the wrong!!! They use the domestic abuse as a tool to prevent fathers from seeing their children as a last ditch attempt to get one over on them even though no domestic abuse was ever reported to the police!! The side of the women are taken and it's wrong I'm a woman myself and i appreciate that some women are abused and it's wrong I was in a violent relationship myself and find it wrong how some women lie just to prevent fathers from seeing their children! My partners ex is doing just this no abuse was ever reported but because she told the cafcass reporters he was the found it in the best interests of the child he not see her!! Their is no proof of this abuse and the child has not been spoken to because she puts it off and says the child is I'll I'm a mom myself now and I realise that the only one missing out is the child it's all wrong!! Men should have equal rights as women then maybe their wouldn't be an much injustice as their is!

Anonymous said...

I'm currently going through a contact battle at the county court. Me and my ex partner had a verbal agreement for 14 months regarding access for me to see my son. The agreement broke down one week after I introduced her to my new partner. My ex stopped me from seeing my son and then moved 120 miles away without even telling me. I filed for a contact order which was transfered to her local county court. The first four hearings were a shambles, missing paper work, incorrect addresses. Finaly one Judge that new what he was doing ordered a Short CAFCASS report for safegaurd checks. The CAFCASS officer failed to complete the report for the next hearing but when he finaly completed the report he stated that contact with me the father should resume. The report covered safeguard checks which included Police reports and social service reports which were all clear due to the fact there was never any violence in our relationship. At the hearing the Judge asked my ex how she felt about contact and then her solicitor replied with 'she wants to deny contact due to years of violence and abuse in the relationship therefore she wants a fact find hearing and a full CAFCASS report' which takes 3 months. At the end of the hearing i wasnt even granted supervised visits. Needless to say I'm representing myself as i dont qualify for legal aid like my ex but i cant afford a solicitor. The whole system is a disgrace.

Anonymous said...

Hi, can any one suggest if i can sue Cafcass on contempt of court...

I am fighting a contact order case. Court ordered the Cafcass in directional hearing to submit his report by 10th December 2010 and ordered me to submit a position statement by 8th November. Cafcass officer never contacted any one until 27th of January. I left number of messages for Cafcass officer but he never bothered to reply back.
On 27th January when I Finally managed to contact with him and asked him regarding the timings of his report, he repied that he never received my position statement. I informed him that i have postal and fax evidence that my position statement was received in his office on due date. He appologised and promised to priortise my case. However, again he never contacted any of the concerened parties and was never available as well. I wrote a letter to the court informing them all the above facts but so far has not received any reply.
I would like to sue Cafcass officer for contempt of court because he lied initially that he has not received my position statement BUT importantly the fact that he failed to comply with the court order to submit his report to the court by the 10th of December 2010.
Due to his deliberate delay i have not seen my childrens since
Please suggest .....

Anonymous said...

I am a law graduate desperately fighting a contact and shared residency case with my ex who is Japanese.
My ex has a long history of violence and psychiatric treatment and was abusive to me for many years until I finally had enough. She drove me away from my child and refused mediation prior to the birth of our son. Although she did attend one single mediation session following his birth the next week she disappeared and abducted our baby son to Japan which is not a Haig Convention Signatory nation and no extradition treaties exist at all. I had no word of my son or contact for five months until a friend denounced her telling she had returned to the UK and planed to leave again in secrecy. I obtained prohibitive steps orders preventing her leaving again and have been battling it out ever since applying for primary care and shared residency.

She has resisted all contact and I have been forced into attending and paying for supported contact in a range of centres. I was appalled by the first CAFCASS report which was so biased in her favour and contained many mistruths by the CAFCASS case worker such as being unable to view video evidence I had compiled of our contact that I complained. My complaint was not even acknlowledged until five months later when I wrote again and started to phone persistently. Since then another CAFCASS worker has been appointed as guardian ad litem of our child and is currently attemtping to approve my ex's application to travel again to Japan from where no one can retrieve him should she fail to return. As a matter of parity they require me to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before I can be unsupervised with my own child despite raising two healthy and balanced children in a previous relationship. They know she is violent and has psychiatric problems but they have not the slightest intention of treating us equally and want to approve her travel BEFORE any assessments at all. They have also told me that the only way they would even consider taking our son from her is if she directly harmed him. In other words harming me means nothing to them. If I had beaten her for three years as she did me, then abducted our child and was discovered trying to leave the country again I would of course go to prison. They claim this is for our son's well being as the mother son bond is too great to break unless there are compelling reasons to do so but of course if I had abducted him for five months or five years he would be taken from me the very second I was discovered. All of this breaches my right to equality before the law as guaranteed by the UN Convention on Human Rights and all statutes that derive from it. Various reports have now been filed which are all completley biased in favour of the mother in ways I shall not bore you with and simply don't treat us equally. A single example is that our CAFCASS worker cited my ex as 'close to tears' describing how she wanted everyone to know that she was a good mother. In contrast she never even mentioned the fact that I really was in tears throughout most of my interview describing the years of physical emotional and psychological abuse I endured. A section of her report was labelled as 'Mr X's views' and contained not one single word about my views and so on. She even arrogantly announced she had no intention of attending court and defending her statement despite being requested by the Court to do so. When she finally did attend she showed how neutral she was by waiting with my ex and her legal team in a private waiting room and when the case was over she went back in with them. I have seen this scenario played out many times over the years with other male applicants and truly understand why some fathers abused by the system take their own lives rather than endure more pain and watch their children being abused and failed by CAFCASS bias and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I have had terrible problems with Cafcass over the last 4 years they constantly fought to give my ex wife sole residence. I have so far put in 2 complaints one eventually after 2 years was completely upheld the next is going to the Ombudsman. I have asked them to compensate me I don't expect the Ombudsman to do so bit I do expect my complaint to be upheld and then I will take legal action, they owe me a duty of care and they lied in their reports they were biased and intentionally withheld evidence. I had to pay lawyers tens of thousands of pounds to fight this bias and I should not have.

I suggest that anyone that has a complaint they make it and take it to the Ombudsman if necessary. The sue Cafcass they will only listen if ot hurts their pockets. Also make recordings of everything phone calls and meeting do it covertly so you get to the truth.

AlexPrice said...

It's been a long time since the last post on ths thread,but I feel I need to post something somewhere to highlight what a bunch of bias bullies cafcass are.my heart is breaking reading some of the posts,they echo what My partner is going through.my partner has two daughters from abrief marraige to a Ukrainian woman.he adores them with all his heart and they adore him.hes had an informal long stand agreement where he has his daughters from Sunday morning into Monday morning every week and half the school holidays.their divorce was messy and there is no love lost between my partner and his ex, and I've watched her pick him apart,call and txt abuse at ridiculous times of the night,lie,manipulate,verbally abuse him and constantly blackmail him using his daughters as tools.its gotten worse since our on was born september 2011,shes taken offence to his very existsnce and sees him as a financial drain thats standing between her and more money.without going on with the lenghthy details,it all got too much when I watched him go grey in the face and physicalky shake during a phone conversation with her, where because he wouldn't give In to yet another ridiculous demand of hers she threatened to 'disappear' with his daughters.the next day he went straight to court to apply for a contact order as it was obvious the informal arrangement was being abused by his ex.ALOT has gone down in the meantime that would take me forever to explain but basically at the court on the day of the directions hearing the cafcass officer sat laughing and bantering with the resident mother and her solicitor and did nothing but scowl over at my partner.in the hearing they basically painted him as a monster and an unfit father with absolutely no grounds except the mothers say so.cafcass are a dangerous bunch of bias cretins and as soon as this court case is done regardless of how it goes,I intent to get a partition going to get the spot light put on cafcass.they can't get away with their corrupt bullying tactics.

AlexPrice said...

Yet again the same complaint comes up about cafcass! Liying in reports and withholding evidence. They MUST be stopped! They are getting away with so much underhand corruption it's frightening!

simon maher said...

Alex price - Im with you - Im in the same boat - email me at mahersp@aol.com

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I don't know if you realise this but once he ombudsman had made his decision. You loose your right to sue them. I am in the same position and have spoken with the Ombudsman office, they told me that I can't sue after the ombudsman has made a ruling. It will not be in the public domain so cafcass can't even be held to account by politicians or the media. I wish you luck with the ombudsman but they should have told you this.

British Jobs said...

I agree with Alex Price.
I have been through the family court situation for 18 months now 10 court appearences 7 judges.
I have seen my daughter for one hour in all that time.
My ex lied about DV and then admitted the lies to the second Cafcass officer.
The first clearly lied and I can prove it then left Cafc ass.
The second Cafcass officer came along and as a tactic 11 months in my ex the Respondent and her solicitors extended the process asking for a 16.4 Guardian for my daughter.
Not important at the start only after 11 months!
My ex signed both of her daughters from a previous relationship over to me 5 years ago.
She left the family home 5 years ago.
She left my daughter with me for 2 years and she has clearly admitted it in writing that the court has.
We then agreed shared custody privatley not though the courts.
I have been through Cafcass many years ago and been awarded custody of my two oldest sons and have bee na single parent for many years.
So DV allegations then withdrawn pAEDIOPHILIAY allegations then admitted in court she lied and it was a mistake.
5 times at a contact centre seen my daughter once.
the next three times my ex was there but denied contact with me and all of her brothers and sisters.
5th time she did not attend.
So my daughter was 7 when taken now 8 not seen her family for 18 months me only for 1 hour.
However my ex now is using the time gap between her taking my daughter and now as a defence for leaving her with her!!!!
She has admitted in writing before the court via her diaries and with a Cafcass officer it was all pre planned.
So now I have to see my daughter with Core Contact services to prove I am a good father.
All in one room me my daughter and two officers noted everything to determin e if I am a good father and parent.
I get two chances.
Over the last 18 months my daughter has been totally influenced manipulated and coerced.
Documentry evidence of the change before the court.
2 Hearing adjourned first because the letter s was in brackets and my ex barrister successfully argued that this my or my not mean multiple statements so this needed sorting.
I have 5 witnessess 2 of which are her own daughters of which she used to beat.
Secong hearing adjourned because the word statement was missing in th court order and so no witnesses because they could not use their written statements.
The court agreed.
Also no Bundle because the court did not add the word statement.
So now given my ex has admittede all of her lies after 9 months in a refuge she has a council house and my daughter has lost her family.
Cafcass officer for the last two courts appearences laughing and chatting with my exs solicitor and barrister.
Indeed it was my ex barrister who recommended to the court tat the Cafcass officer should be the 16.4 Guardian.
Next hearing in April to see if I am a good parent after my two core contact meetingns with my daughter.
Question???????
What is a good parent how do good parents behave.
Give me the manual
Or at least give me the manual that cafcass and core contact services use.
Core Contact services incientally contracted by Cafcass.
A point "he who pays the piper plays the tune"
They refuse any taping or independant witnesses at all.
Both Cafcass and Core Contact Services fight for all their worth to avoid truth honesty and transparency. Why?????
The Cafcass has also met all of the brothers and sisters for one hour and have determined they are not capable of independant thought and everthing they say and intimate is based on the fact that they have no ability to think or communicate independantly.
However my 8 year old daughter according to her clearly can!!!
In summary Cafcass are liars and I have documentry evidence to prove it.
There is another case or series of cases.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Can anyone tell me if me and my partner can sue Cafcass due to a bad and inadequte report that was writen about my partner by a Cafcass worker. We complained to Cafcass and 18 points from 20 were upheld.
This was almost 2yrs ago and due to my partner being sucessful in court we didn't take any further action but recently new info has come to light about the cafcass worker that wrote the report so we feel it necessasry to take further action.
Thanks in advance for any help.

Dr Mel said...

Cafcass are extremely powerful and huge errors are made which they cover up. Clear symptoms of sexual abuse of a 4 year old were evident in one case that I know yet due to their lack of knowledge, this was never picked up by them. The mother in this instance saw these signs as one-off events yet when put together explain the behavioural problems of the child. This child is now disclosing for herself. Also some family judges are overly reliant on Cafcass reports and do not do their jobs. One judge I know of has told parents that they are not to either call the police, should a violent partner turn up or take a child to the doctors if they are returned from contact with bruises and such like. If they should do this then this judge has said he would remove the child. This is a clear contravention of the rights of the child. There is clear evidence that Cafcass is not fit for purpose. Everyone knows this so why are they still up and running?

Lightning said...

As the mother of three children whom the HIH COURT themselves failed, CAFCASS ARE very, very dangerous.
Their training such as it is, IS in itself negligent, they have NO ACTUAL understanding of what really goes on behind closed doors with regard to domestic violence.
They told me that i had to REMAIN QUIET about the abuse inflicted upon my children, that it was better that my children simply be allowed to ' MOVE ON '. I am the one who had to deal with the constant nightmares, flashbacks, family counselling etc. I feel for everything that you have had to endure but rest assured that CAFCASS like so many other organisations like ti WILL do all they can to cover their own failings. If you do ever get to the truth ( which i very much doubt then i will be one of the first to congratulate you,..HOWEVER i will not hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

CAFCASS ARE nothing more than vultures who have NO REAL training with regard to child abuse or what goes on behind closed doors with regard to domestic violence.

I am along with my children a survivor of severe domestic violence, CAFCASS as well as a high profile HIGH COURT JUDGE told me to 'REMAIN QUIET ' with regard to the abuse inflicted upon my children, that it was PROBABLY BEST OR THEM TO MOVE ON '.

I am the one who had to cope with the constant nightmares, flashbacks, family counselling & general mistrust that my children now have of all officials.
If you do by some miracle manage to get to the truth involving your own case ( which i very much doubt ) then all power to you.
HOWEVER be warned like other organisations like them CAFCASS WILL do EVERYTHING they can to cover their own failings because your feelings mean NOTHING to them.

Anonymous said...

I'm just suffering CAFCASS. The officer refused to meet me to discuss her report, but met my wife twice and has accepted everything she said. She has alleged domestic violence (no evidence) and alleged I never bought food for the kids (so I kept the receipts for a year - CAFCASS still wouldn't see them as I 'might have bought the food and given it to someone else'. My wife was physically aggressive - put our 10 year old boy in hospital twice with head injuries - CAFCASS said there was no evidence of any injury, and then refused to look at the hospital records when I produced them, or include them I her report. The children (4) were asked who they wanted to live with; 2 said mother, 2 said father. CAFCASS denied the boys had said this and refused to look at the court officer's report where they had said this. CAFCASS refused to see me at any point with the children to assess my parenting skills / relationship, and refused to speak to the children about their wishes (aged 13,12,10 & 7). As I denied the domestic violence allegations, CAFCASS said this showed I lacked insight, and should have no contact with the children at all. (incidentally the police are not much better - In 2012 my wife assaulted me, I called police, the officers who attended said they didn't believe a woman would assault a man!) I'm due in court Sep 2013.

James said...

Cafcass are the right arm of Social Services, they are the SS to the Social Services Gestapo. I am fully aware that those who work for this agency lie in court. What is more I have evidence of this.

What is clear from all of this is that the law has the full intention of removing children from their parents, without foundational evidence to do so. and that Social Services and Cafcass will create evidence, if there is no actual evidence to justify their actions.

This was stated in court by an employee of Cafcass.

"The mother has a conviction for neglect"

It was a totally false and untrue allegation, fortunately I ensured that the mother read through ALL the reports. After doing so she found over 80 inaccuracies and lies which had been written by Social Services and the employee of Cafcass, as a result was forced to withdraw her statements.

The state of the UK family courts is worse than disgusting.

Anonymous said...

they are just a bunch of shit faced lyingbastards and bitches, corrupt as hell and the biggest abusers of children and ruining their lives and taking away their happiness. shame on them, they are a disgrace to society and their profession.