This guide isn´t to help you ´con´ CAFCASS, but suggestions to hardwire into your approach to both court proceedings and your relationship with your ex-partner after. Trust us when we say we see more parents getting what they want from court when they take a non-aggressive, reasonable and child focused approach. You´ll end up with a less stressful life, as will your children. Even if you face allegations, this approach is equally sensible.
Do speak calmly and clearly;
Do tell the truth;
Do explain to the CAFCASS Officer why you believe shared parenting is in your children´s best interests unless there are genuine and serious welfare concerns;
Do give the Officer information about your past involvement in the children´s care;
Do clearly explain your childcare plans, showing you have considered such things as who will look after the children when you are ill or if the children are ill during your work days etc (also see our guide on Flexible Working if this helps your situation);
Do state that you want only what is right for your child;
Do ensure you cover all the points in the meeting that you feel are necessary. For your own benefit, write these down, prior to the meeting, and read them before the meeting (but do not take in an ´agenda!´);
Do explain what things you and your child do together, paint a picture (verbally) of family life, and this should be your foundation for asking for whatever arrangements you wish. These foundations are the strongest you can put forward;
Do ask the CAFCASS Officer when their report will be provided to both parents (if the court has asked for one);
Do tidy the house if the officer is coming round. A few well positioned family photos are never a bad idea, and give you something to talk about related to the children´s relationship with you.
Don´t Criticise your ex-partner as a person. If there are things they do which concern you in terms of their parenting, and those concerns are serious, explain the actions and behaviours which worry you;
Don´t be afraid to say something positive about your ex;
Don´t use possessive language and have a possessive mindset. It is not ´my´ child. It´s ´our´ child!
Don´t say you wish to stop your ex-partner from seeing "our child";
Don´t make false allegations;
Don´t get so caught up in your ex-partner´s allegations that you forget to put forward your child-focused arrangements (this is a very common failure);
Don´t lose your cool, become angry, or appear unreasonably emotional;
Don´t argue or be sarcastic with the CAFCASS Officer.
Anger is normal when couples break up, however good parents deal with it and put their children first. If your partner also follows this strategy, you should both come out of court less damaged. If not, the court will see a clear difference between the two of you. Be the reasonable party!
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Michael Robinson © 2014
Family law information for parents whose children are resident in England and Wales
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