When family proceedings involve children, the court may order a Section 7 report to be prepared by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). The report aims to provide the court with information about the child’s needs, wishes and feelings, as well as any risks or concerns that may impact the child’s welfare.
WHAT IS A SECTION 7 REPORT?
A Section 7 Report is a document that provides the court information about a child’s welfare in family proceedings. The report is prepared by a CAFCASS officer who is appointed by the court. The report is intended to help inform the court’s decision about child arrangements and to ensure that the best interests of the child are at the heart of any decisions made.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A SECTION 7 REPORT?
The report will generally include information about the child’s wishes and feelings, needs, relationships, and any risks or concerns that may impact the child’s welfare. Based on this information, the report will make recommendations to the court about what should happen next. This could include suggestions for child arrangements that may be required.
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF CAFCASS?
The role of CAFCASS in child proceedings is to ensure that the best interests of the child are the main factor of any decisions made by the court. This includes providing information to the court about the child’s welfare and what arrangements may be in their best interests. CAFCASS officers may carry out investigations into concerns that have been raised about the child’s welfare, and they will provide a report to the court outlining their findings.
CAFCASS officers are independent and impartial, they are not aligned with either parent. They will also meet with the child and their parents, and they may also speak to other people who are involved in the child’s life, such as teachers or healthcare professionals. The aim is to get a full picture of the child’s needs and to ensure that their views are heard.
Once the court and the parents receive the Section 7 report, the parents may be willing to reach an agreement in line with, or similar to, the CAFCASS recommendations, in which case the Court will approve this in a final order. If the parents cannot agree and the case proceeds to a final hearing, the court will consider the Section 7 report and listen to the parties, and will then make the final decision about what the child arrangements should be. The Section 7 report is very influential on this decision but the Court does not always follow the recommendations if there are good reasons not to do so.