The Family Law Act 1975 places considerable importance on children being able to maintain a significant relationship with their parents. However, it is important to consider that a balance must be reached between maintaining a relationship with both parents and protecting a child from any risk of harm.
Court supervised time achieves this balance in situations where the relationship between parent and child can be maintained in a safe environment with no risk of harm to the child. The court may order supervised time if:
- The child is at risk of psychological or physical harm if they spend time with a parent who may be violent;
- The child is at risk of sexual abuse; or
- The parent’s behaviour is not in the best interests of the child, for example, if the parent has a significant addiction.
The child’s time with the parent can be supervised by family and friends, contact centres or private supervision organisations. The other parent cannot be the supervisor as this may cause conflict.
The role of any supervisor is to ensure parent and child are spending time together in an environment that is safe and has no risk of harm. Supervisors must monitor the interaction and conversations between a child and their parent and need to have a good understanding of what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, and when they need to intervene.
It is essential that court supervised time is relaxed and comfortable. Therefore, a trusted family member or friend should be chosen as the supervisor if that is what you want for your situation. Being a supervisor also requires a significant time commitment, so the individual you choose should be aware of this before accepting the responsibility.
Contact centres can offer you a supervision service at a discounted rate. If you wish to undertake court supervised time through contact centres, there is a likely chance you will be placed on a waiting list due to the high demand of the service.
Most contact centres will offer you indoor and outdoor spaces for the supervised time, including a range of games suitable to your child’s age. Contact centres will also offer services such as staggered arrival time between parents to reduce the risk of conflict arising.
Private supervision organisations are similar to contact centres; however, their fees are higher. They offer greater flexibility as well as more mobile services, which means that parents and children can spend time together outside of the premises of the supervision service provider.
If the other parent to your child has requested that your time with the child be supervised, it may not seem like the best outcome; however, court supervised time is often a great opportunity to rebuild a stronger relationship with your child, and is a better outcome than having no time with your child at all.
If you are struggling to consider the best needs for your child, No Lawyers’ Family Law Resources can help you understand how to proceed to achieve the best possible outcome for your family.