There are some circumstances where a child’s time with their parent (or extended family such as grandparents) will need to be supervised. The primary factor to take into consideration regarding parenting arrangements is what is in the child’s best interests. We also need to take into account the need to protect the child from the risk of harm, neglect or abuse. If there are concerns regarding the child’s welfare in the care of the other parent, this may require that child to spend supervised time with that parent until concerns regarding the child’s welfare have been addressed, such as through counselling or through a post-separation parenting course.
The parents may agree informally between themselves that supervised time is to take place. The supervisor may be a close family member, such as a grandparent. In the event that the parents cannot reach an agreement regarding how the child will spend time with the other parent, then the matter may proceed to Court. The Court will need to consider the facts of the case and apply the principles of the Family Law Act prior to making Orders on the children’s time with the other parent.
The Court may make an Order that a child spend supervised time in circumstances where there are allegations of family violence, drug or alcohol use, abuse, neglect or harm or there is a risk that a child may be abducted if they are left in the care of the other parent. Supervised time may also be required if the child is being introduced or re-introduced to the other parent whom they have spent little time with previously.
If there is high conflict between the parties then there are some circumstances where it will be appropriate that the changeover between the child and parent will need to be supervised. Changeover is the term used when the child is being collected or dropped off by one parent to the other parent.
Whether the changeover alone needs to be supervised or the time that the child spends with a parent that needs to be supervised, the supervisor may be required to prepare a summary or report of their observations during the child’s time with the other parent. The report will provide some guidance on whether supervised contact is required for the long-term, or whether there are any risks observed. If the parenting matter goes to Court, this report may be reviewed by the Judge or other stakeholders who may provide recommendations on the long-term arrangements for the child.
Determining whether the supervised time is required will depend on the specific set of circumstances in your case. We welcome you to contact our team to arrange an initial appointment with one of our family lawyer’s at either our Brisbane or Gold Coast office.
What is a contact centre and when are they used?
A contact centre is used in circumstances where the parent has either agreed to or has been ordered to spend supervised time with a child. The contact centre provides a safe venue for the child to spend time with a parent where there are concerns of the child’s care, safety and wellbeing in that parent’s care.
A contact centre is also helpful in circumstances where there is high conflict at the changeover between the parents. The centre provides an alternate venue to ensure time can continue between the child and parent, despite the conflict between the parents.
There are fees involved for a contact centre, which will vary depending on which centre you choose. Usually, these fees are shared between the parties. However, this varies case by case.
If you are concerned about the welfare of your child spending time with the other parent and would like further advice on supervised time at a contact centre, please speak to one of our friendly family lawyers at either our Gold Coast or Brisbane office.