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Recommendations by FCAs accepted by courts in 75% of cases

Cafcass research shows that courts are generally following court welfare reports

A study commissioned by Cafcass has revealed that the recommendations of family court advisers were accepted by courts in just over 75% of sampled cases. The proportion rose to 90% of sampled cases if those in which there was to be a further review of the case by the court are included.

Cafcass says that the research shows that the court will, in some cases, make an order different from that which was recommended by Cafcass, and confirms that the court can respond to concerns or alternative arrangements put by either party at court. This demonstrates the independence of the court and its role as final decision maker in family proceedings.

The research was carried out by Cafcass staff who were independent of the sample cases.

The aims were twofold:

  1. In respect of applications made under section 8 of the Children Act 1989 ('private law proceedings') to establish the degree of congruence between:
    a) The recommendations made by Cafcass Family Court Advisers (FCAs) in section 7 reports to court; and
    b) The determinations arrived at by the court 
  2. To inquire into the circumstances of those cases where there was a difference between the recommendation made by the FCA and the determination arrived at by the court.

The study was based on a sample of 170 randomly selected private law residence and/or contact cases that were closed to Cafcass during June 2012, and where a section 7 report was recorded as having been requested of Cafcass by the court.