FLINT logo
Families Link International
Tel:0781 886 1724

home | issues | policies | family groups | courts | court reporters | research | law | contacts | donations | Useful Quotes |

Court reporters - cAFCASS
CAFCASS to destroy another generation

Dear Mr O'Connell

Thank you for your email of 21 July, sent to David Edwards about child contact. Your email has been forwarded to the Department of Education and Skills as this Department is responsible for Children, Young People and Families policy. I have been asked to reply.

I must explain that neither Government Ministers nor officials can intervene in the proceedings of individual cases. I can assure you that this is not because of any lack of concern, but because to do so would undermine the principle that the judiciary is entirely independent of Government.

Cases which involve the care of children can be very distressing. In dealing with these cases all judges and holders of judicial office are expected to display tact, sympathy and understanding. Inevitably the decisions which have to be taken are difficult ones and judges may be called upon to reach a view which will be disappointing or unwelcome to at least one of the parties. If you have a specific complaint against a judge then you can contact Ms Pennie Turrell, Judicial Correspondence Unit, The Department for Constitutional Affairs, Selborne House, 54-60 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QW. If you have a complaint about the conduct of solicitors you can contact the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (OSS), Victoria Court, 8 Dormer Place, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32 5AE; tel: 01926 820082; helpline: 0845 608 6565; website: www.lawsociety.org.uk or E-mail: enquiries@lawsociety.org.uk

The Children Act 1989 makes the welfare of the child the court’s paramount concern. We must put children first. The Government has no plans to change this principle. Primary legislation obliges the courts to consider any harm a child has suffered or is at risk of suffering when deciding whether or not an order is in the best interests of the child. It also gives the court powers to protect children and families at risk.

Existing legislation makes clear that in any proceedings under the Children Act 1989, the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration. The court must apply the “welfare checklist”, as set out at section 1(3), which includes any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.

The definition of “harm” in the Children Act 1989 has been amended by section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. This section further defines “harm” by including “impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another”. This provision is due to be commenced with effect from January 2005, as the resources necessary to fund the additional public legal funding of applicants and respondents, which fall to the Legal Services Commission to meet, has now been identified.

From that date the new definition of harm and the new forms will be used for all applications for orders under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 (contact, residence, prohibited steps and specific issues). This will build upon the existing Practice Direction issued by the President of the Family Division and the related case law judgments.

The commencement of section 120 will be accompanied by the introduction of revised court forms. This, taken together with the Children Act Sub-Committee Guidelines on how courts should handle contact applications where domestic violence is alleged, will enable the parties to section 8 proceedings to make clear any allegations about domestic violence and its impact on children that may be relevant.

This will, in turn, allow findings of fact to be made by the family courts at an early stage in the proceedings, enabling this determination appropriately to influence the making or refusal of contact or residence orders, in the ongoing context of the child’s welfare remaining the paramount consideration of the court. The subject of the allegations will, of course, be given the opportunity to respond to them.

We know there are parents who fear violence toward themselves or their children on contact visits. They decide not to take the matter to court because they believe the court would order contact in any event. The new arrangements should give all parents and their legal representatives the confidence to use the courts for the protection of themselves and their children.

Yours sincerely

Kabir Ahmed
Families in Change Team
Vulnerable Children Division
Your correspondence has been allocated the reference number 2004/0040739

-----Original Message-----
From: justjesting@computerxtra.com
Sent: 21 July 2004 14:58
To: David Edwards; MINISTERS, Dfes

Subject: Re: CAFCASS to destroy another generation

6, The Towers,
Forton rd,
PO12 3HA

21st July 2004

What happens when the mother is abusive and violent and the family law sytem covers up??

I shall tell you, the father is tortured by the State and the system acts collusively.

Check the stop press on http://www.familieslink.co.uk

This is not Iraq but at least Saddam Hussein was given the right to a fair hearing.

Shaun O'Connell BSc PGCE

The contents on these pages are provided as information only. No responsibility or liability is accepted by or on behalf of FLINT for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages connect, whether provided by FLINT or by any organisation, company or individual. No mention of any organisation, company or individual, whether on these pages or on other sites to which these pages are linked, shall imply any approval or warranty as to the standing and capability of any such organisations, companies or individuals on the part of FLINT. All rights reserved.