Why do children get appointed a CAFCASS Children’s Guardian?

A CAFCASS Children’s Guardian will be appointed by the Court in family proceedings where there are concerns about a child’s welfare, for example, care proceedings or complex private proceedings for a child arrangements order. 

CAFCASS is an acronym for Children and Families Court Advisory and Support Service.  CAFCASS was created to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within family proceedings, advise the Court about applications made within family proceedings, to represent the children within family proceedings and to provide support and advice for children and families.

The role of the Children’s Guardian is to ensure the decisions made within family proceedings protect the child and are in the child’s best interest.  The Children’s Guardian is independent from the local authority, they make their own enquiries to analyse the local authority’s plan and make their own recommendations to the Court.  The Children’s Guardian represents the child and is the child’s voice within family proceedings, they therefore instruct their own solicitor.

The Children’s Guardian will speak with the child’s parents, social worker and other people who know the child’s family such health visitors and teachers.  The Children’s Guardian will also visit the child to obtain their wishes and feelings if the child is an appropriate age to have these conversations, they will also attend meetings concerning the child’s health, education and welfare.

A Children’s Guardian will advise the Court on decisions that need to be made, such as, where a child should live, what contact a child should have with their family members, whether expert assessments are required in order to inform decision making and what final decision the Court should make.  If the Children’s Guardian disagrees with a care plan or an assessment completed by the local authority the Children’s Guardian will suggest an alternative.

If a child does not agree with the recommendations made by their Children’s Guardian and they are old enough to understand the family proceedings the child can be represented by their own solicitor.  A child can also request to speak with the Judge directly to explain what decisions they would like to be made.

If your child is the subject of family proceedings where a Children’s Guardian has been appointed and you would like to obtain independent expert legal advice, or you require representation, please do not hesitate to contact one of our child care and family solicitors on 01530 510 666 or email enquiries@mandersol.co.uk

Jessica Stafford

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