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Court Reporters - CAFCASS - mislead again

----- Original Message -----
From: Dow, Catherine
To: 'dave.mortimer@tiscali.co.uk'
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2004 1:17 PM
Subject: F.A.O Baroness Pitkeathley

Dear Mr Mortimer

Many thanks for your recent enquiry, to which I am responding on behalf of Baroness Pitkeathley, the Chair of CAFCASS.

CAFCASS recognises that children generally benefit from a continuing relationship with both parents after a family breakdown. We also acknowledge that the best outcomes for children are usually where parents themselves reach agreement about arrangements for the future of their children, as most do without resorting to the courts.

Where agreement cannot be reached, state intervention in family life may be needed, but is generally likely to be second best. Fewer than one in 10 parental disputes end up in the courts but when cases do go to court, decisions will be made on the facts of each individual case in which the child's welfare is the court's paramount consideration.

CAFCASS does not believe it is possible to set rigid standard rules for contact between children and their parents as the circumstances of families vary considerably. Shared residence (or joint residence) is one of a range of options available for families. When considering these options, we base our recommendations on what arrangements are in the best interests of the child.

CAFCASS continues to take note of developing caselaw [1] and research on the subject of shared residence, which shows that successful shared residence depends on a high degree of co-operation between the parents. When parents are in conflict or find it difficult to communicate, there can be difficulties for some children who split their time equally between their parent's houses after divorce or separation, particularly as they get older [2].
[1] D v D [2001] 1 FLR 495, Re A [2002] 1 FCR 177, Re F [2003] 2 FLR 397 and A v A [2004] EWHC 142 (Fam).
[2] Smart, C., Neale, B. and Flowerdew, J. (forthcoming 2003) Follow up study to The Changing Experience of Childhood: Families and Divorce Polity Press (2001).

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