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CAFCASS encourage shared parenting

15 July 2009 5,449 views 9 Comments

CAFCASS policy has undergone a shift of late in favour of shared parenting. “Cafcass wishes to help both parents to continue, after separation or divorce, to play an important role in their children’s lives, unless there is a good reason, supported by evidence, not to do so.”
They acknowledge that not all of CAFCASS’ own people have come up to speed with this new approach yet, and so their Guidance for case officers is essential reading for anyone whose children are currently involved with them.

This is welcome news which may have passed un-noticed by those of us with bad personal experiences of their involvement with our children. Here are the key principles from the guidance:
” Shared parenting means, at root, that both parents are actively involved in loving and guiding their child throughout their childhood, following separation or divorce. It means that each child spends a significant amount of time with each parent regularly, and both parents are involved in key decisions concerning their child. What those roles will be will depend on the precise circumstances of each case, but they will usually involve both parents having significant overnight contact, being involved in the child’s schooling, important (though not emergency) health issues, moral and religious education, hobbies and so on.”

“Unless there is good reason, supported by evidence” is especially encouraging to see in this guidance. All too often, bonds between parent and child are destroyed through malicious allegations by the other parent, which by the time they are shown to to be false, have already destroyed the relationship, so rewarding the parent who made the false allegation. Evidence is essential before taking the draconian step of separating a parent from a child, and at last CAFCASS have taken this on board in their policy. It is up to each of us now to be vigilant to ensure this policy is carried out in practice.


  • tarrelen said:

    This is the best news I have had in a bad month! (my ex has suddenly become very adversarial on seeing my suggested parenting plan). Unfortunately the link in the article to the guidance from the CAFCASS website does not work. I have what seems to be the same or similar document from Families Need Fathers: http://www.fnf.org.uk/downloads/CAFCASS_GUIDANCE_APRIL_09_FNF_STYLE.pdf,

    but it would carry more weight ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as it were….

  • admin said:

    Apparently this has been withdrawn since our original article was posted. It seems it was a draft document posted in error.

    Two academics, Liz Trinder and Joan Hunt, wrote to DCSF, CAFCASS, and FNF raising “grave concerns” about the guidance, and this would seem to be behind the withdrawal of it from the CAFCASS web-site. FNF continues to support the guidance, but unless it receives support from other quarters, the guidance may well now die a death.

    For more information see http://www.communitycare.co.uk/Articles/2009/08/07/112283/fathers-group-tackles-misunderstanding-over-cafcass-guide.html

  • ray (author) said:

    FnF did indeed say it was a work in progress, and that it had been posted prematurely in error. Whatever FnF thought of it, however, is less important than what CAFCASS thought. CAFCASS were clearly content with the guidance; they posted it on their own web-site as official guidance to their own practitioners, and then removed it when 2 academics complained about it.

    This is a perfect example of the back-door way that policies are made which affect all of our children,- not by politicians or any other accountable people but secretly by unaccountable, unelected individuals such as Liz Trinder and Joan Hunt.

    Parliament intended that the 1989 Children Act should lead to shared parenting being the norm. We now have the very opposite of that. How has this happened? How has the will of Parliament, our elected representatives, been set aside? By small steps over the years like this one, a phone call here, a letter there, a word in the right ear; that’s all it took to remove a quarter of the nation’s children from the love of one or other parent, that and the the fact that no-one cares until it happens to their own children.


  • tarrelen said:

    Thank you both very much for the information.

    Families need fathers have posted an update about this on their website:

    “The news is that Cafcass have agreed to take ownership of the guidelines, with FNF support, and create a revised draft that will then be circulated to Cafcass staff.
    They hope to have an agreed version by the end of September”

    I am holding my breath!

  • Rosefather said:

    Has anyone seen this agreed version? It’s now past the end of Oct, let alone Sept. If there is not public ownership of these or similar guidelines, I feel this needs to be followed up. If anyone knows any more, about CAFCASS updating their policy or about any follow up, please post a link in these comments.

  • paulbaddeley said:

    CAFCASS DO NOT ENCOURAGE SHARED PARENTING IN STOKE-ON-TRENT. THEY ADD NO VALUE WHATSOEVER. They take what mum wants and that’s it. They even ignored the chilsren’s plead to see dad more. No reasons for this other than they did not want to upset mum!!!! They refused to use there own contact guidelines and did not consider shared residence as requested by the court.

    There should be a presumption of shared parenting. This is better for everyone and will allow the country to say with conviction that it promotes equal opportunties for all including children. CAFCASS cannot change and should be disbanded and the money saved used to free mediation should be put in place straight away or seperated parents who need it.

    Former labour voter.

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