15 year old who has capacity - contact with parents

A 15 yr old with autism has expressed to varying professionals including his advocate, that he does not want any contact with his father, only his mother. The CaFCASS worker has made recommendations that the lad should keep in contact until he is 18. They are saying in light of his needs he should see his parent until he is 18. They are also stating he does not have the capacity, but from my opinion and the advocate, there is no indication that he has an LD, and is very articulate about his needs.
Any advice please?

Hello Annie,

I suppose you could consider what his ‘best interests’ are. Why does he not want contact with his father? You need more info.


Good morning Annie,

Although not clear from what you have said, this looks as if it is a child arrangements case (Children Act 1989) (my understanding is that this is where a CAFCASS officer is appointed). Child arrangement orders are not made after the child has reached 16 (once 16 you can decide where you want to live) save for exceptional circumstances (this scenario might of course be an exceptional case).

I am told by my family law colleague that it is unusual for a court to order that a child sees a parent when they clearly don’t want to (and the issue is their expressed wishes, not whether they are Gillick competent). It is not therefore clear why the CAFCASS officer is recommending that he sees his Dad even though he doesn’t want to do that. The reason for this recommendation would presumably be explained in the CAFCASS report but this would be confidential so you might not have access to this.
It is possible for the child to have their own legal representation in such cases - so suggest that a family lawyer’s advice on this is sought.

Hope that this is of some help?

1 Like

A child is defined in the Children Act 1989 as any person under the age of eighteen (s105). Technically a Child arrangements order can be made for a 16 year old child, there is nothing in the Children Act to prevent child arrangement orders for 16 year old. However the court and CAFCASS must consider the welfare checklist:

(a)the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
(b)his physical, emotional and educational needs;
(c)the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
(d)his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
(e)any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
(f)how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
(g)the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

for a 16 year old who has capacity, their wishes and views will be of significant weight. If they say he has no capacity, is this based on an assessment and if so by whom? if these are public/private law proceedings then this child needs separate representation from their guardian