CAFCASS Assessments: Harmful conflict

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If you’re being assessed by CAFCASS, we’d love to hear what it’s like for you. Is it going well or badly? Is it helpful and how has it helped?  Are you finding it hard and if so why? What do you make of what you’re going through? Has contact been ordered after a domestic abuse perpetrator programme when it’s not safe ? Has no contact been ordered when it is safe? Have you had false allegations made about you? We want to hear about cases like this and the impact it’s having on you and the children.

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We are keen to help you through the process and with our years of experience working in the family court (Jill as a solicitor and George as an expert witness) we may be able to give useful advice.  

We will soon be launching a new podcast which will focus on real life cases based on what people tell us.  Of course, as professionals, we will respect the key issues of privacy and confidentiality but we want to help you and others by sharing real life experiences. 

How CAFCASS assess harmful conflict

If your case involves ‘harmful conflict’, the links below show you exactly how CAFCASS will assess you and your family relationships.  FCAs are expected to follow these processes although they do have discretion in how they conduct their assessments.

For the CAFCASS guidance and procedures for working with children, go to

CAFCASS tries to distinguish between harmful conflict and domestic abuse.  Their approach to domestic abuse has a different set of resources 

Their harmful conflict guide provides a detailed account of how CAFCASS approach these cases and it’s well worth reading.

The Resources CAFCASS Use To Assess Harmful Conflict

Dispute resolution skills and techniques guidance

This is a brief guide for Family Court Advisers (FCAs) undertaking dispute resolution (DR) work. It sets out some approaches that can help parents refocus on the child’s experience rather than on their own conflict.

Parenting styles tool

This helps FCAs to identify the parenting styles which they consider affect children’s outcomes.  They have four categories: authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent, and neglectful.

Distinguishing domestic abuse and harmful conflict tool

This is designed to be used early on in a case to assist the FCA in deciding what kind of problem they are dealing with – domestic abuse or harmful conflict – and therefore how they should assess it. However, they also say that it is not designed to be a diagnostic tool and does not replace professional judgement.

Cafcass Positive Co-parenting Programme suitability criteria tool

FCAs use this to assess the suitability of a case for the CAFCASS Positive Parenting Programme (CPPP)

Children’s beliefs about parental divorce tool

This is used when working with children to understand their beliefs about their parents’ divorce (It’s a bit dated, being developed by Kurdek and Berg in 1987!).


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