Where there are disputes involving children the court will assign a Cafcass Officer (sometimes referred to as court welfare officer) to prepare reports. Cafcass waiting lists are long and an officer may not be assigned to your case until many months after the directions hearing. Ring your local Cafcass office and ask to speak to the officer in charge. You can then find out how long it is likely to take and keep gentle pressure on to ensure your case is dealt with as quickly as possible. However, do not become aggressive or harass them unnecessarily, remember that you need these people to be on your side.
The Cafcass Officer will arrange to speak to both parents and the children. You can insist that that the Cafcass Officer interviews your children separately and with you as long as they are willing to see you. This is important where you suspect that they might be under pressure from the other parent or an older sibling.
It is unlikely that a court will rule against a Cafcass Officer's decision so it is vital that you get them on side. Keep your focus on what is in the best interests of your children and not on what your ex has done wrong. This way, if your ex is making spurious allegations you will show how reasonable you are and that you are not the embittered party. You should see the Cafcass report before you go to court to give you time to prepare your case. You can then raise with questions with your Cafcass Officer but unless dates or factual data is wrong you stand very little chance of them changing it.