Section 7 Reports

Posted on Sunday, 23rd Jul, 2017 at 08:08:52 PM
A Section 7 is a report about an aspect of your childs welfare that the court may order Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) to write in order to help the judge make a decision regarding contact or residence of a child.

A Cafcass officer provides an independent evaluation and assessment of a situation and reports the findings to the Court. A Section 7 Report needs to contain background information and key facts and evidence that the childs needs have been considered in accordance with the Welfare Checklist (see below).

The Cafcass worker will decide what information they need for the report based on what the court has asked them to look into. This may include talking to children (depending on their age and understanding) about their wishes and feelings and what they would like to happen.

The Cafcass worker will:

usually talk to your children alone, this may be at a neutral venue such as at their school

spend time with you and the other party and listen to any concerns you might have

They may also speak to other people such as family members, teachers and health workers.

The Cafcass worker will not ask your children to make a decision or to choose between you and the other party.

Having made these enquiries the Cafcass worker will write a report advising the court on what they think should happen. In most cases you will be able to see the Cafcass report before the court hearing.

The report must cover:

Background;

History of Childrens Services and other agency interventions;

Profile of each child;

Profile of each adult who is a party to the proceedings;

The response of the family members to the current circumstances;

A summary of the assessment;

The comments regarding the welfare checklist (see below);

The comments regarding the no order principle and its relevance to this case; (The court must start from the position that no order shall be made unless the court considers that doing so would be better for the child than making no order at all);

The conclusions and recommendations.

The Cafcass officer responsible for preparing the report will generally need to be present at Court when the application is heard and should be prepared to give evidence in support of the information contained in the report.

WELFARE CHECKLIST:

When the family court is making a decision on matters that will affect a child, the courts are required to look at the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration. The welfare checklist consists of seven statutory criteria that the courts must consider under the Children Act 1989 when reaching its decision in cases involving children.

What are these criteria?

The seven criteria set out in the welfare checklist under s1(3) Children Act 1989 are:

The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned.

The childs physical, emotional and educational needs.

The likely effect on the child if circumstances changed as a result of the courts decision.

The childs age, sex, backgrounds and any other characteristics which will be relevant to the courts decision.

Any harm the child has suffered or maybe at risk of suffering.

Capability of the childs parents (or any other person the courts find relevant) at meeting the childs needs.

The powers available to the court in the given proceedings.

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