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Supervised Contact in Children's Matters

Date:
By Kasey Stewart
Category: Family Law

 

The suggestion that a parent should spend time with a child or children under supervision is becoming increasingly popular and is generally seen in children's disputes where there has been

  1. Allegations of family violence

  2. Drug and Alcohol concerns

  3. Mental health issues

  4. Relationship between a parent and a child is a damaged or no-existent

  5. One parent is concerned about the other's parenting capacity

Supervised visits have an appeal to them, particularly in the early stages of your dispute. When serious  allegations are made, the Court is generally not equipped to determine the truth of the allegations, or determine the level of risk, when the matter first comes to Court.

It may be that documents need to be subpoenaed, a parent may be asked to undertake a urinalysis screen or see a health professional for a report, and/or there may be a Police investigation underway.  

While these lines of enquiry are explored, depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the Court may need to put protective measures in place to ensure that the child is safe, this is where Supervised contact comes into play.

Supervised contact takes on many forms, and levels,  examples include:

  • that the father spend time with the child at the Paternal grandparents home;

  • that the mother spend time with the child in the presence of a named and trusted friend or relative;

  • that the father spend time with the child at a supervised contact centre.

The benefit if you are the person making the allegation is if the other parent behaves poorly, does not attend, or does not engage then the person providing the supervision can give evidence that can be used in your family law matter.  

The benefit if you are the person who is subject to the allegation is that you have an ability to maintain a relationship with the child while the allegation is dealt with, and/or, it can give you time to overcome the issues that you stand accused of. In many cases involving allegations of risk to a child, it is simply better to accept supervised contact rather than no contact at all.

Supervised contact is generally a short term solution, it can become a burden for friends and relatives, it is expensive to use private supervisors, and Government funded centres such as the Rainbow Centre generally only offer two hours every fortnight, which is very limited.