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Cafcass Injustice

(58 Posts)
gingerbiskit Mon 13-Feb-12 20:03:09

My son had a meeting with a Cafcass officer and he was asked to write a letter to the judge stating his 'wishes and feelings' regarding access times with his dad. The next day he told me his first piece of paper had been taken away by the Cafcass officer (because he'd written something she didn't want him to) and he was asked to write it again. I'm furious.

gingerbiskit Wed 15-Feb-12 16:45:32

Thanks for pointing that out wheredidiputit - that is entirely my point: why did they throw away my son's 'wishes and feelings' letter? What is the point of asking him to write it, in that case? And yes, it does need to be unbiased. How can these people be allowed to write a report for the court when they don't even know us and have only had about 10 mins with each of us? The meetings are not recorded and no one knows what questions are asked and in what order? Basically, they can make up whatever they like. Who's gonna know? I will be making a formal complaint to Cafcass anyway.

Their father is emotionally abusive. This is a very difficult abuse to describe but it can be very damaging. My son is very sensitive and I can only imagine that it is because of this that he does not like visiting.

wheredidiputit Wed 15-Feb-12 21:08:22

I glad your going to complain about the Cafcass officer. I would also let your solicitor know what has happened.

gingerbiskit Wed 15-Feb-12 22:56:50

I did speak to my solicitor about it - she suggested that I confront the Cafcass Officer about it. Going to ring her tomorrow. Not looking forward to that. Solicitor told me to stay calm and just make a note of what she says and not get into an argument with her.

brandysoakedbitch Thu 16-Feb-12 10:03:54

Ginger, do be careful when tackling your cafcass officer - I made an enemy of mine early on and to be honest they actually do as they please. I put a complaint in about her (as she was very out of order) and she apologised in a token way and then carried on as she pleased. My childrens letters have not been mentioned in court and are not entered into the file either but interesting a letter from my ex's gf at the time saying what a bitch I am is in the file..... go figure! It is a random process and handling the officer very carefully is the key (I didn't and have paid for it time and time again) - she too only spoke to my dds very briefly in all this and she must have sherlock's powers of deduction because she seems to think she knows an awful lot about them and me and our relationship - she also said my dds opinions were too strong to have been their own! - remember they have not seen this man for 4 years in the case of my younger half her life but still apparently their opinions do not actually count.

brandysoakedbitch Thu 16-Feb-12 10:05:09

Oh and if she does not present them - write to her and ask for them to be presented and as a matter of courtesy copy the judge and solicitor and ex solicitor in too, then that should force her hand on the matter whilst avoiding an argument.

STIDW Thu 16-Feb-12 11:06:55

On the whole there is not much to be achieved by complaining about CAFCASS. There is no set format for reports but if it is a welfare report generally the CAFCASS officer will gather information from schools, CRB, health visitors etc and document background information told to them by parents. There is no assumption made as to whether what they are told is true or not. The reporter will draw conclusions and make recommendations. It isn't possible to challenge the documentation of what parents said but any errors of fact or law can be challenged and the best place to do that is in court.

Is it possible your son had misunderstood and not written what he was asked to write? Or could he have written something in a way that it showed it wasn't his own views or decisions but someone else s and he was asked to rewrite it in his own words?

cestlavielife Thu 16-Feb-12 11:55:37

you could get your ds seen by a profressional family therapist who could then write a report for the court?

kittycat68 Fri 17-Feb-12 00:40:39

cafcass is bloody useless if u ask me . they never listen to the children even when there 17! all they want is to give the father all the contact he wants hoping he will go away from the court system. Little do they understand that in many DV cases the ex H often spends years using the court system to harass the mother. And they use the children as pawns in a game.
Cafcass dont seem to ever read any indpendant reports from other proffessionals they almost harrass the children into agreeing to go and even if they continue for several years refusing they are so up them selves that they think that they are going to sucseed where others have failed.
Cafcass from my experience should be terminated! they are not imparial or unbiased there remitt is to get contact aggreed at all costs to keep it out of the court arena

Justw0nder1ng Fri 17-Feb-12 07:06:13

I couldn't agree with you more Kitty! The way they dismiss reports from other professionals astounds me! Never before have I come across such a badly run and incompetent organisation. I couldn't believe my ears at some of the things my officer came out with. He said camhs were rubbish, I was utterly disgusted, camhs sorted out the mess that cafcass and the court system left my son in. I have yet to hear good things about cafcass tbh.

Collaborate Fri 17-Feb-12 07:18:23

Poor cafcass getting a pasting here.

Just wanted to make the obvious point that if cafcass reports are so so wrong, everyone will have their day i court, and if they are so bloody obviously wrong why is it that their conclusions are followed wholly or substantially in the vast majority of cases (I know it's over 90%: 85% of statistics are made up)? If anyone unsuccessfully argues against the recommendation of a cafcass report it means that an independent judge doesn't agree with them.

Also Kittykat, not sure what you mean by you think cafcass don't listen to 17 year olds. Children can only be the subject of children act applications up to their 16th birthday. Whilst anything a 17 year old sibling says to a cafcass officer should, if relevant, appear in the report, it's up to the cafcass officer and the judge what weight to give their comments. It is for the judge to determine the contact arrangements, not a teenage sibling.

brandysoakedbitch Fri 17-Feb-12 08:49:21

Was it not the case that CAFCASS was found to be unsatisfactory. I do fail to understand how they can make determinations with only meeting children for an hour. Our CAFCASS officer even called the children by the wrong name (confused with another case: not hugely reassuring) - Mine also interviewed me without even reading the case file - 4 years worth of court battles,Police and Social Services and NSPCC reports etc because she 'had a sense of the case' - like I said before she must have magical powers. Luckily in our case their Father's daft behaviours have just been the proof of the pudding but it does amaze me that they do disregard people like the NSPCC, GPs and schools (all of which were done in our case. Her report was written without sight of these and only talking to me for 45 mins and 2 children for 1 hour together - not exactly thorough) It is a scary process and yes the courts do agree with most of their recommendations because the assumption is that they have done their job properly - In our case it was not done properly, it has delayed the process and allowed their Father to keep up the abuse. Our NSPCC Officer actually contacted CAFCASS and told them about child protection issues around my DDs and their Father and they still recommended contact - she had already written the report and did not want to rescind what she had said (her words - so really was about her losing face with the judge rather than being about the right thing to do) Unless you have been on the receiving end of this level of ineptitude it is hard to believe.

And it is beyond naive to believe we all have our day in court. I cannot afford representation, I cannot imagine how much money I would have ploughed into defending my children against their abusive and mendacious Father. It truly is a terrifying process for me to face the person who has abused me and my dds and the assumption is always that contact is better than none, no matter the circumstances and in our case whether or not he can even be bothered to write to them. Luckily we have a new Judge who is a lot kinder and clearer about our case so yes, I might have my day in court yet. As far as I am concerned CAFCASS have only served to add to our distress and to aid an abusive man in carrying on the abuse of his wife and children. I am over 5 years into the process, can you tell I am bitter?

Justw0nder1ng Fri 17-Feb-12 09:07:10

There are so many cases like ours brandy, I feel so sad for all the children whose childhoods are ruined by this. We are the ones left dealing with the destruction the court process and cafcass leave behind.
There are so many men who use the court system to carry on abuse of their ex wives and it is well documented and recognised. No-one would argue against a good healthy relationship with the nrp but those parents don't end up in court.
Cafcass are overworked and simply do not have the time or resources to do their jobs properly. This is a job that needs doing properly and thoroughly, 1 hour with a child to make such an important decision is simply disgraceful. To not work with other professionals who spend a lot more time with the children is inexcusable.

STIDW Fri 17-Feb-12 09:37:45

In the past there were reports finding CAFCASS in some areas as being unsatisfactory but they have done better recently.

What many people fail to understand is that evidence from treating health care professionals etc isn't independent and doesn't carry that much weight, although it might be used to argue for reports by independent professional experts such as psychologists or psychiatrists.

Children's views have to be seen in light of the overall circumstances and in context of what is going on in the family. For example, loving parents will ask children's opinions about moving house or changing schools but it would be a foolish parent indeed who allowed their children to make a decision.

Decisions need to be made with the children's best interests at heart. A teenager might say they prefer to live with a parent because the parent is very permissive and allows them to go drinking to the small hours of the morning every night when clearly it would be in the child's interests to live with the parent who lays down some ground rules. The overriding principle is the best interests of the child.

As far as DV is concerned any harm children may suffer from the effects of DV are weighed against the long term harm children suffer when they lose contact with one of their parents. When there is evidence children suffer significant harm from DV supervised contact, contact in a contact centre, indirect contact or even in exceptional cases no contact will be ordered.

With lower levels of abuse the harm of not knowing and seeing a parent outweigh the effects of DV. Children who grow up insecure about their parentage and identity tend to have low levels of self esteem leading to emotional and behavioural problems in later life such as dysfunctional adulthood relationships.

Justw0nder1ng Fri 17-Feb-12 10:02:15

With all due respect stidw I understand all of the reasons for contact and agree with what you're saying. Cafcass officers are no different to people in other professions, some are good, some are bad. We are bemused by why so little time is spent with our children to make such a major decision. And why are men allowed to keep taking mothers back and forth to contact for contact with children but actually making so little effort with the contact they get. Only genuine cases should be allowed to continue in the court system.

cestlavielife Fri 17-Feb-12 10:09:36

you dont have to see a parent all the time to know about your identity and parentage. it does depend on the issues. each case is individual. forcing a reluctant child to see a parent (espec if child is older say 9 10 and mature enough to know and understand what has gone wrong) may cause harm.

if abuse was only to the other parent but the parent is able to put that aside and be responsible parent to the Dc then sure .

but sometimes it isnt as clear cut and parent may also be abusive/emotionally harming etc to the child. sometimes is not clear cut and sometimes is difficult for anyone eg CAFCASS judge to make right recomendations or decisions.

generally, yes contact centre etc should be tried. safe contact.

in my case nothing was set in stone ie final order for two years. so there was a long process. during that time there was chance for dad to prove himself thu contact centre supervised contact etc. some went well, it all fell apart again later (his severe and not well managed MH issues)

CAFCASS is a govt funded organization with good and not so good individuals. gettign bitter about an individual wont help your case. in court you get chance to pout your side of the story and express what is best inerest of the DC.

STIDW Fri 17-Feb-12 12:10:35

The point is low level abusers are still allowed to see their children in recognition of the clear principles of both domestic and international law of the child’s and parent’s right to have a relationship with one another. Courts make decisions based on evidence. Psychiatrists and psychologists are constantly giving evidence to family courts that children are very likely to suffer harm if they are exposed to abuse within their parents’ relationship, but the answer to this harm is unlikely to be to cut out of their lives one half of their genetic identity, particularly if the children are old enough and had spent enough time with their parents to form close attachments to both.

There are many reasons children are resistant to contact. Some have had bad experiences with the non-resident parent or find contact unrewarding. There are those who are reacting to their own hurt. Then there are those whose resistance is more due to their wish or need to side with the resident parent out of loyalty. Then, although it is relatively rare, there are those children found to have been poisoned against a parent.

In high conflict cases courts are often faced with parents' serious allegations and counter-allegations against each other. Some of the allegations are unreliable and finding of facts is required to establish the extent to which a child's fear or anger is realistic. When it is found children are fearful or angry because of past events when they have observed outbursts of temper or violence by one or of their parents, it's unlikely unsupervised contact will be recommended. There are a few rare cases when it is unlikely that any direct contact will be ordered without substantial change in the parent's behaviour and children who show signs of post traumatic symptoms may need therapy before any consideration of further contact.

Some children are found to come to a judgement about the value of contact based upon experiences which they are able to describe. In these cases it may be possible to raise the problems with the contact parent and to reach some agreement for change.

When there is evidence of one parent hounding the other parent through the courts ultimately the judge can impose the condition that permission from the court is required for further applications.

DaddyOO Wed 22-Feb-12 14:38:04

My wife has a daughter who has lied to Cafcass and told them that me and my wife both physically abused her. All so she could live with her dad. Cafcass believed her and said we should have a record with social services and that her daughter should live with her dad. There was a lot of background behind the case regarding the father abusing my wife and him teaching his daughter to disrespect her mother, i.e. throw things at her, scream at her, call her a bitch etc etc but Cafcass didn’t see this as being an issue. This has been the most traumatic thing anyone can go through being falsely accused by a government body of child abuse. Especially seeing as my wife is an angel and has a heart of gold and always puts everyone before her self. I studied for 10 years to become a chartered engineer and give advice in my field, it seems that when it comes to children you can train for 3 weeks and become an expert. The whole system is a complete failure and should be scrapped as soon as possible. Only professional child psychologists should be allowed to interview children and decide whether what they say is true or not.

STIDW Wed 22-Feb-12 20:17:42

Perhaps it's better to make comments on DaddyOO's own thread rather than hi-jack this one.

captainbluebear Thu 23-Feb-12 12:20:50

CAFCASS often make the judgement though and the courts go with what they say.... like it or not, that is the way it goes.
At the directions hearing about my boy (who repeatedly says he wants to live with me because he is scared of dad) the bloody judge had not even read the CAFCASS report and when it was pointed out to him he just flipped to the conclusion which was all of a small paragraph and that was it.
The final hearing was no better, the next report repeated what my boy had been saying all along but was not backed up by CAFCASS who said 'it would make no difference to my boy if he spent more time with mum or not'. We now have a shared residency order in place that is slowly breaking my child as he just wants to live in one home with his mum where he is safe from his bullying and controlling father.
CAFCASS will go for the easiest option every time... and often that is siding with the father. If he has taken it to court then he will inevitably bully and cajole everyone else into giving him what he wants! Dad's who are good and kind very rarely take child issues to court as they can often be sorted out amicably with mum. They really do have the child's best interests at heart x

candyiwant Fri 03-Aug-12 23:52:36

My ex wants 50/50 shared care, do you think cafcas would help me if it had to go to court, do you think they would be fair to me? He wants it split straight down the middle and is very controlling

kittycat68 Sat 04-Aug-12 09:57:41

cass are not inbiased unfortunately! its there job to move contact forward!
dosent ever seem to matter what the children say! if the children dont want to c there dad they just think must be resident parents fault! cafcass is not there to stand up for childen they are there to increase the contact for the non resident parent if thats what they want ( this has been my experiance over the last seven years) they are guilty of emotional abuse on children!

candyiwant Sun 05-Aug-12 00:14:32

Thats terrible, why would they want to do that if not in the best interests of the family?
It dosent make sense to me surely they can pick up on abusive controllin fathers, they must see them day in day out its so common, why support them they are bullies these men, thats how the women got themselves in this situation in the first place. If you ask me women and mothers get a bad deal. If thats true, maybe once mine is finalised ill start out a campaign. Im so angry that they listen to these mens pleas it is all promises promises lies lies lies to bring us down. uggh

STIDW Sun 05-Aug-12 23:25:28

Every case is different. CAFCASS will usually only be asked to do a report if there are welfare concerns.

The biggest obstacle to dad's sharing residence 50:50 after parents' separation is the absence of shared care 50:50 before they separate. That's because the vast majority of men with dependent children work in full time inflexible jobs and fathers work longer hours than any other men. The majority of women with dependent children don't work, or work in part time jobs to fit around child care commitments.

Unless children aren't surviving well the probability is low of a court disrupting their sense of security and established bonds. When both parents work full time and share child care equally before separation then it's likely the courts will order 50:50 shared residence. Otherwise a parent with the majority of care before separation is likely to continue in that role.

S1eepy Wed 12-Sep-12 13:21:06

I didn't get a very good impression of Cafcass. Im my experience they spend no-where near enough time with the child to form an opinion of any use. Sad really, I just don't think they have the resources. Unfortunately it is a job that needs doing properly and these half measures are extremley damaging to children and parents lives.

devoteddadof7 Mon 26-Nov-12 18:55:26


Can someone help me please

I have my son who is now 13 living with me and he has done for 3 years

My ex is very bitter and is always sending solicitors letters, the last one is that she wants to see her son more, she sees him every Tuesday and has him every other weekend sat to Sunday, he has told her he doesn't want to see her and when he does he will ring her and ask to go, she's asking for half of all holidays and more contact, he has told her he will go for a week at summer holidays but he doesn't want to do anything else

I refuse to make any of my children suffer through cafcass and courts but she has text my son saying he will be interviewed by a cafcass officer, he is beside himself with this and has told his mum he doesn't want to do that!

He's 13, if he doesn't want to go, I don't make him

My solicitor has mentioned to do mediation I went, and asked if it was worth doing they said that given the difficulties that my ex has bought up no, as this has been going on since I separated from her, and got worse when she gets bored! So advised that we wait until she makes an application to court, however when they wrote to my solicitor mediation said that I had refused mediation but she was willing to mediate! My ex has already broke the first court order that was given and it makes me so angry that she is doing this to our son when he's told her his preferences!

I'm fed up of it and its tearing my wife apart and having major impact on our house

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