Welcome to Cafcass

This page has been designed for parents and carers who are at the start of their family law proceedings. You may already know what the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) does, how we work with children and families at court, and what to expect. However, this page contains all the information you might need to know before your first hearing. We recommend you spend 10-15 minutes reading it, especially if this is your first time at court.

You can find out more about Cafcass throughout the website.

What is going to happen after you confirm your details until your first hearing

You should have received your Welcome Letter from Cafcass that tells you when and at what time your telephone interview will take place.

  • The interview will be an opportunity to speak to your allocated Family Court Adviser about any safeguarding issues in your case.
  • It’s important you make a note of this, so you don’t forget. You will also receive a text message reminder on the day of your telephone interview.
  • This call usually lasts 30 minutes – and it’s really important you speak to us, so we can give the best picture of what’s happening to the court.

You might then receive a copy of your safeguarding letter.

  • This is the letter that your Family Court Adviser will write to tell the court what Cafcass has learnt as a result of completing our safeguarding enquiries.
  • In most circumstances you’ll get a copy of the letter, occasionally this is not possible. For example, if the letter contains information that would present a risk to others, or if there isn’t enough time before the hearing. If this happens, we will tell the court about this. The safeguarding letter is confidential and should not be shared.

You may be required to attend your First Hearing.

  • Your hearing date will be set by the court. You may hear this referred to as a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing or a Directions Appointment. If you’re not sure when this is taking place, you should contact your local court.

If you are confused about anything, the Cafcass call-centre will be happy to point you in the right direction, please contact them on the following number if you need any help: 0300 456 4000.

Frequently asked questions

Top Tips from the Family Justice Young People’s Board

The Family Justice Young People’s Board (FJYPB) are a group of over 50 children and young people aged between seven and 25 years old who live across England and Wales. All of our members have either had direct experience of the family justice system or have an interest in children’s rights and the family courts.

You can view the Top Tips for parents and carers here.

Resources that might help you

We have curated some resources that might be helpful for you to look at before your first hearing.

Resources for parents and carers

Divorce and separation


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