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Children and young people feedback line: 0808 175 3333

My family is involved in private law proceedings

Male couple playing with toddler

This section of our website is for parents, carers, and other family members if you and your child’s other parent or carer cannot agree the best arrangements for looking after them. This could be because you live apart or you are separated or divorced or going through a divorce. 

We know that sorting out the practicalities can feel overwhelming, especially if one parent or carer applies to the family court to ask for its intervention to determine the arrangements for your child. These types of family court proceedings are known as ‘private law’ proceedings. 

This includes applications for a:

  • Child arrangements order - This is an order which sets out where a child lives and who they spend time with.
  • Specific Issue order – This is when parents or carers ask the court to decide on a specific issue relating to the child’s upbringing.
  • Prohibited Steps order – This is an order which restricts the exercise of a part of a person’s parental responsibility which is specified in an order.

The role of Cafcass in private law proceedings is to provide a Family Court Adviser (FCA) to independently advise the family courts in England about the arrangements that are most likely to be in the children’s best interests and which promote their safety and wellbeing. In this section, we explain the role of your FCA in the process, and how they will help your child’s voice be heard in the proceedings.

Below is a short video to introduce our role in private law proceedings and to explain some of the important terms you will see within this section of our website. It has been produced in conjunction with our Family Forum.

Please select from the options below to explore our information for parents, carers and other family members on applications to the family court for child arrangement orders (private law proceedings).  

A woman sits and smiles while holding a pad and pen

How your Family Court Adviser makes their assessment of your child’s welfare and best interests

Learn more about how your FCA makes the assessment that will form the basis of their recommendation to the court, including details of the ‘Child Impact Assessment Framework’ your FCA will refer to throughout this process. This section also covers what an FCA does if domestic abuse is known or alleged during family proceedings, and how they assess harmful conflict and ‘alienating behaviours’.
A woman in a dressing gown smiles while holding a mug. She is with a boy and a girl

Feedback from a parent in a private law case

"The Cafcass worker got the right result - this should have happened. She was perfect and my child really liked her, they met her in school. She was brilliant and really good. The nicest thing was the letter at the end, that was really special. There is no doubt going forward for my child. It was so personal and friendly. It was lovely and I even shared it with my mum. It was fabulous and really important and you could tell it was personal. I wasn't expecting this."

Find out why feedback is so important to us and how to provide it here