Family Procedure Rules Practice Direction 12B addresses when and how the court should make a section 7 direction
From paragraph 14.13
(a)“Reports may be ordered where there are welfare issues or other specific considerations which should be addressed in a report by Cafcass/Cafcass Cymru or the local authority. Before a report is ordered, the court should consider alternative ways of working with the parties (‘non-court resolution of disputed arrangements’)…
(b) If a report is ordered in accordance with section 7 of the Children Act 1989, the court should direct which specific matters relating to the welfare of the child are to be addressed. Welfare reports will generally only be ordered in cases where there is a dispute as to with whom the child should live, spend time, or otherwise have contact with. A report can also be ordered:
- If there is an issue concerning the child’s wishes, and/or
- If there is an alleged risk to the child, and/or
- Where information and advice is needed which the court considers to be necessary before a decision can be reached in the case.
(c) General requests for a report on an application should be avoided; the Court should state on the face of the order the specific factual and/or other issue which is to be addressed in the focused report.
(d) In determining whether a request for a report should be directed to the relevant local authority or to Cafcass/Cafcass Cymru, the court should consider any information Cafcass/Cafcass Cymru has provided about the extent and nature of the local authority’s current or recent involvement with the subject of the application and the parties, and any relevant protocol between Cafcass and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
(e) The court may further consider whether there is a need for an investigation under section 37 Children Act 1989.
(f) A copy of the order requesting the report and any relevant court documents are to be sent by the court forthwith to Cafcass/Cafcass Cymru or, in the case of the local authority to the legal adviser to the director of children’s services and, where known, to the allocated social worker.”