The Children & Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) represents children in family court cases, acting on behalf of and advising on the best interests of the child(ren). When a child is made party to court proceedings, CAFCASS appoints a Children’s Guardian who will independently represent them throughout the proceedings. Once appointed, the Guardian will speak with the child, the parents and sometimes other family members to ascertain the child’s best interest and put these forward before the court.

CAFCASS acts as an advisory body and has published the Child Impact Assessment Framework (CIAF) for use in private law family proceedings. The new assessment framework intends to better ensure a set standard is implemented by practitioners when it comes to assessing the impact of complex case factors on children in private law proceedings. For example, it considers the following case factors:

  • Domestic abuse
  • Conflict which is harmful to the child
  • Child refusal or resistance (in relation to spending time with a parent or carer)
  • Other forms of harmful parenting (e.g. substance misuse or severe mental health difficulties)

The CIAF was created using advice from approximately 40 practitioners from across the country and using a range of academic material. The result brings together helpful tools and guidance all in one place, offering an interactive framework to use when working on private law cases.

CAFCASS are due to roll out mandatory training in using the CIAF to all private law practitioners and it is expected that all training will be completed by March 2019. To view the framework, please visit the Child Impact Assessment Framework webpage.

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