The Family Proceedings Advisory Service was formerly known as the Safeguarder Service.
The Family Proceedings Advisory Service (FPAS) was set up under the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law (2008) as amended, bringing together the services previously provided by the Court Welfare and Guardian ad Litem services. A Family Proceedings Adviser (FPA) is appointed by the Family Courts (Magistrate's and Royal), the Juvenile Court (Public Law) and the Child Youth and Community Tribunal (CYCT) or the Convenor as an independent professional to advise and make recommendations on current applications to the Courts. The FPA works for the Courts, independently of any other States Committees or agency, to safeguard and promote the interests of children and young people involved in Family Court proceedings and ensure that children's views are heard.
Further information about the Guernsey Courts can be obtained from the dedicated website www.guernseyroyalcourt.gg
The Family Proceedings Advisory Service responsibilities include the following:
- to facilitate effective communication with all parties
- to ensure contact for children is safe
- to arrange for contact to be supervised if necessary
- to support parents to be aware of the impact on their children of the current situation
- to remain impartial, unprejudiced and non-judgmental
- to maintain confidentiality
- to provide consistency of service, recording and reports
- to pass on concerns to other agencies
When does the Family Proceedings Advisory Service become involved in Court proceedings?
The Court appoints a Family Proceedings Adviser:
- When parents or carers are separating or divorcing and have not reached agreement on the care of their children and have made applications to the Court.
- Social services have become involved and children's safety is potentially at risk and the Committee for Health & Social Care are applying for Community Parenting Orders. The FPA's role is to look carefully at the care plans for the children and make recommendations to the Court.
- When children are being adopted
- When parents or carers are referred or self-refer for medication/conflict resolution
The Family Court Adviser's role in Court proceedings
- Safeguard and promote the interests of children and young people involved in Family Court proceedings and ensure that children's views are heard
- Make recommendations to the Courts on the best arrangements for children's care
- Provide Family Proceedings Advisers for children in matters brought to court by the Committee for Health and Social Care, when requested to do so by the court
An FPA will meet all the parties, including the children when appropriate, in order to:
- collate information;
- carry out agency checks;
- gain the child's wishes and feelings
- facilitate communication between the parties;
- attend Court reviews and hearings;
- attend Professionals meetings;
- When appointed as a Mediator, to mediate an agreement between the parties;
- liaise with parties' advocates;
- observe contact or to refer to the Child Contact Services where necessary and collate contact reports;
- provide a report to the Court with recommendations required.
The FPA will refer all child protection issues to the relevant agencies and inform the parents/carers that they have done this, unless this will put the child/children at further risk, but will not undertake child protection investigations.
An FPA is appointed by the Court. A triage system of allocation is used by the Manager to ensure that cases are allocated as soon as possible and certain cases will be given priority following a risk assessment.
FPA's do not advise on financial issues or maintenance, give legal advice, therapy or counselling. FPAS does not replace the services of an advocate, or a social worker, or the police, or a contact supervisor.
The Family Proceedings Adviser's role (known as Safeguarder) in CYCT proceedings:
The Safeguarder will:
- Ensure the child's rights are protected
- Ensure the views of the child are established, valued and communicated to the hearing
- Ensure any proposals made to the hearing are in the child's best interests
- Meet with the child and the family and prepare a report for the hearing
- Comment on appropriateness of the proposals (child's plan)
- Attend the hearing to respond to the CYCT
Mediation & Conflict Resolution
The Family Proceedings Advisers are all fully trained mediators, and the Family Proceedings Advisory Service is able to offer Mediation as an alternative to a contested Court hearing when both parties agree to this.
FPAS feel that the opportunity to mediate should be offered to all families that we work with.
The principles of Mediation are that it is:
- Confidential (except for child protection and safety issues)
- Decisions are made jointly by parties
- Any person can request Mediation, referrals can accepted through different channels; mainly self-referral, professional agency, Advocate or by the Court.
- Mediation can be used in different ways
How will mediation work?
Once we have received a completed Mediation referral form all parties will attend an individual intake meeting. At this meeting we will collect all the relevant contact details, details of your children and your overall objective in attending mediation.
Should mediation appear to be suitable you will then be contacted to arrange the sessions with you and the other party. Mediation takes place through joint meetings with the help of trained, impartial professionals. The mediators are there to help the participants to have a conversation about the issues that need to be resolved. Any decisions made will be made freely without pressure. If one party feels unable to be in the same room as the other we can offer shuttle mediation (where two rooms are used and the mediator moves from one client to other without any joint sessions)
Following a mediation session a summary will be sent out to both parties including any agreements that have been made.
Mediation is not counselling, therapy, or marriage guidance.
Mediators will not give advice, and will remain neutral as to the outcome, but will help you explore solutions that are appropriate for you.
What issues can be discussed through mediation?
Where the children will live, when and how the children will see the non-resident parent
How best to explain the situation to the children
How much time children will spend with their extended family
Who the children will spend holidays with such as Easter, Summer and Christmas
How parents will communicate about their children
Outside relationships and new partners
If you would like to request a referral from please contact 743700 or email email@example.com
If the parties have applications in Court a discussion will take place at the start of mediation as to whether they are in agreement for information to be shared from the mediation process into the Court proceedings. If this is agreed then the meeting will become known as conflict resolution, the reason for this is any information shared will be used in the Court.
Children First Course
Separating when there are children involved can be traumatic and painful for all involved. A local charity - Children First - runs a two-week course to help parents cope and protect their children as much as possible from difficult and emotional fall-out.
Please see attached leaflet for more information.
In order to comply with its obligations under the law the Family Proceedings Advisory Service (FPAS) collects data directly from its clients and from third parties such as medical practices, the Probation Service, the Police, schools and other States of Guernsey Committees; the type of data collected includes: data subjects' names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, email addresses, and may include special categories of personal data ie gender, ethnicity, religion, health and criminal.
Please refer to our Fair Processing Notice for more information.
All the relevant information you provide will be included in the Family Court Adviser's report which is confidential to the Court and all parties involved.