When an application is made for a Child Arrangement Order to specify with whom a child is to live and what time they are to spend with the other parent, Cafcass will prepare a Safeguarding letter before the first hearing.
Cafcass will carry out checks with the police and the local authority to find out whether there are any known safety or welfare risks to your child. They will phone you and the other party to find out if either of you have any concerns about the safety and/or welfare of your child. A Safeguarding letter will be provided at least three days before the first hearing, this details the outcomes of the safeguarding checks and any child welfare issues raised in the telephone interviews with you and the other party and advises the Court what further information is required.
This is the point that Cafcass may recommend a report to be prepared by Cafcass or the Local Authority in the form of either a Section 7 Report or a Section 37 Report. So what’s the difference?
Section 7 Report
The Cafcass worker provides an independent evaluation and assessment of a situation and reports the findings to the Court.
The Cafcass worker will decide what information they need for the report based upon what the court has asked them to look into. This may include talking to child (depending on their age and understanding) about their wishes and feelings and what they would like to happen.
In preparing their report the Cafcass worker will usually talk to your child alone (this may be at a neutral venue such as at their school), spend time with you and the other party and listen to any concerns you might have. They may also speak to other people such as family members, teachers and health workers.
The Cafcass worker will not ask your child to make a decision or to choose between you and the other party.
Having made these enquiries the Cafcass worker will write a report advising the court on what they think should happen and make a recommendation as to with whom the child should live and what time they spend with the other parent.
Section 37 Report
This is when the family court orders the Local Authority to produce this report because they are worried about a child and want to make sure that they are safe. The Local Authority Children’s Services department, if so directed, must consider whether to take any action, such as applying for a Care or Supervision Order or providing services or assistance to the child or the family.
Enoch Evans LLP follows the Law Society’s Family Law Protocol and the Resolution Code of Practice in promoting a non-confrontational and constructive way of dealing with child arrangements, whilst always acting in a client’s best interest.