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How does CAFCASS work?

(13 Posts)
gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 09:16:13

Abusive ex is apparently taking me to court for access to his young ebf DC. He has no contact currently due to his emotional abuse and my refusal to be in a room with him. All supported by solicitor. Am working with women's aid. I left with our son and am staying between my friend and my mums house. Friend lives an hour away from ex and mum lives 3 hours away. Ex wants me to facilitate DC seeing him 4x a week. Thinks I should do most driving which would equal DC in car up to 8 hours a week, if not more. He thinks IABU stYing with my parents so far away from him. He's continued to be abusive towards me. Made threats that 'things are going to end badly for me if I don't do what he asks' - no idea what that means. Solicitor has said CAFCASS will be interested in this and they'll also be interested in the fact that his eldest DC from a previous relationship witnessed his abusive behaviour.

How much influence do CAFCASS really have?
How do they work?
What if he accused me of lying? (I'm not)

Very nervous about it all...

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gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 09:40:19

Anyone had any experience?

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gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 10:41:49


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IsItBetter Fri 05-Apr-19 11:22:05

Cafcass are very important, and their advice for contact is followed closely by the court.

I cannot talk for what will happen in abusive situation, as for my own case they were only involved in the initial stages where no additional fact finding was required.

SkinnyPete Fri 05-Apr-19 12:01:57

Collect any scrap of evidence of the emotional abuse.

No contact is a pretty big move though, and you'll need to be prepared to defend that your decision for NC was don't in the interest of the DC and not your own. If he was emotionally abusive to the DC, that would change things.

Be careful that this stays about the children and not you, no matter how much of an abusive twat he's been. And also think about your DC, as assuming there are no safeguarding issues, they deserve a relationship with their DF.

gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 12:15:06

@SkinnyPete I haven't suggested no contact forever. I'm just having no contact because I'm breast feeding and there's no safe way for him to see DC without me being there. He's been careless with our DC before, left him unattended twice in public, put food in his mouth before he was weaned (he was 2, 3 & 4 months and ebf each time he did this). He's an idiot and not really capable of looking after DC. He wouldn't allow me to pick him up once when he was crying because he was 'doing it on purpose'. Threatened to give him formula because I dared go out of the house for 20 minutes and wasn't returning quick enough. Threatened that DC will know how I was a terrible mother and already calls his ex a bitch and slut in front of her DC. The list goes on. If he has contact it needs to be supervised. In my opinion anyway..

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SkinnyPete Fri 05-Apr-19 12:22:11

I'd agree, supervised access seems appropriate. I'd offer an hour or two at your mum's/friends supervised and you disappear for a bit. Unless he's a total nutcase (rather than idiot) and a contact centre more appropriate.

If he can't be arsed travelling to see his DC, then at least you've offered and more fool him.

gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 12:28:52

@SkinnyPete my friends won't allow him in their house. When I went to get my things from our jointly owned house he had destroyed a lot of my belongings and had taken a photo of their 14 year old daughter out of a pile of photographs and destroyed it. This is bizarre behaviour. It's not normal. I have nobody else who would do it. He won't drive as far as my family. I'm really stuck.. just don't know how I got here. I'm a really good mum and I know that

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gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 12:30:44

Just worried CAFCASS won't listen to me as I've heard they're hit and miss...

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SkinnyPete Fri 05-Apr-19 12:53:15

They can be. It's important that you have reasoned thinking behind all your decisions, and it was for the DC well being. He's definitely shown irratic and untrustworthy behaviour (from your last post), and I'm sure your friends would back you up if CAFCASS approached them.

From what I've read I think you're doing the right thing. I'd still make sure you have on record offering for him to see DC at your parents at his inconvenience, and if he says no, then you've offered, and it's up to him.

Don't make his mind up for him about not wanting to travel, even if he's said it in passing that he doesn't want to. Just a final offer that says if you want to see DC, then you're coming to my parents and supervised. Cafcass don't like the drawbridge being drawn unless it absolutely cannot be avoided.

gillyanne5 Fri 05-Apr-19 13:00:20

@SkinnyPete so are cafcass likely to approach friends/family/anyone mentioned in the report? This is probably a good thing..

Is it confidential? Or would he know everything everyone has said about him?

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SkinnyPete Fri 05-Apr-19 13:20:07

As with most things, it all depends.

What everyone tries to avoid is a long drawn out court case of he said she said, which is why evidence is crucial. Enough of it will usually get the other parties solicitor to advise them to back down.

Cafcass can speak to a range of people, but again, they try to avoid anything beyond bio parents where possible. They're pretty good at getting you to be comfortable with them and having you spill your anger because you think they're on your side. Just always keep it reasonable and in your DCs interest.

lifebegins50 Fri 05-Apr-19 17:04:32

Cafcass will be very influential to a judge as they write recommendations.
Sadly there is an enormous bias towards Dads seeing DC at all costs and the threshold for abuse is very high. My friend has 3 DC, one old enough who won't see the violent Dad but the younger 2 have to see Dad, despite telling everyone including school how scared they are of him.

I think this will be a "scandal" in years to come but for now it is the approach courts favour.
There is a constant suggestion of parental alienation and often a mum, who is protecting their child, will be accused of alienation so be cautious how you discuss your relationship with him. Only use examples you can prove. Focus on his relationship with his children and what you want him to do so that the relationship with his child happens.

Have a look at Mothers Unite.

My DC had to go through Cafcass as Ex refused to listen to them and wanted residency. The recommendation was to listen to the DC and it did suggest Ex see "someone" for his anger but I felt the report was keen to show lack of bias towards Dads that they were soft on him and definitely downplayed what the DC ( who were teens) said. My solicitor told me that had they listed how aggressive Ex was social services might have to be involved and they just wanted it to go away quietly.
To be fair Ex was highly aggressive in the divorce process, due to control being taken away, and has since calmed down so perhaps they know this happens to controlling men.

You will get through it, controlling men will always fight unreasonably so be prepared for extensive lies. Be calm and have friends to vent to..don't assume the process will be "fair". Having such a young child will help as I think judges are rightly cautious of that bond however don't expect them to care about you.

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