A family assistance order (FAO) is a court order used in the United Kingdom (UK) by an organisation known as the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). The purpose of an FAO is to help families through the transition of divorce or separation.
Function and Purpose
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FAOs assign a specialist to help sort through conflicts, changes and emotional issues brought on by a separation or divorce. The order is given by the courts, but all adults named in the order must consent to it. It can also be used to help family members meet other court orders already in place.
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The specialist designated by CAFCASS will sit make sure everyone in the family understands the order and its purpose. The group creates a list of goals, as well as a plan for achieving those goals. At the end of the process (12 months or less), the specialist submits a report concerning those goals.
The intended benefits of an FAO are to ensure contact with the children from both parental parties after the proceedings. Another benefit is the reduction of potential hostility between the adult parties, and helping children to cope with the transition. While divorce is never easy, family assistance orders aim to smooth the transition as much as possible.