The proposals contained in the reports made by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) are followed in the final orders made by family law courts in 90% of cases according to a recent study.
In 3 out of every four cases the court advisor report and the final order, and following further court reviews the level of congruence rises to 9 in every 10 cases.
The study sampled a cross section of 170 family law cases and the level of congruence rate reflects very well on the quality of legal advice offered by CAFCASS.
Anongst the statistics from the report:
• The court followed the recommendations of court welfare reports in 107 of 170 cases without the need for a court review
• In a further 20 cases, the court reached the same decision as the report following a court review
• In 8 cases, the court accepted some recommendations and rejected others
• Only 5 cases were completely incongruent
• Thirty cases were deemed not to be applicable either because no report was forwarded or because the case was adjourned, dismissed or withdrawn
• Excluding those cases which were not applicable, 106 of 140 revealed total congruence between the report and the final court order prior to any court review. A further 18 were completely congruent following a court review.
The results, which won’t come as any particular surprise to experienced family solicitors, are another boost for CAFCASS which has already seen its reputation and visibility improve after more than a 10% increase in care applications. One CAFCASS representative suggested that although CAFCASS will come under pressure due to changes to public and private law, it had the capacity to continue its good work.