Supervised contact is a way of allowing one parent to spend time with the children if the other parent or a court is concerned that the children may be at risk with that parent.
Under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), all children, if it is in their best interests, maintain the right to contact with both parents on a regular basis.
Contact or visitation can be supervised in two ways.
Firstly, supervised contact can be when an independent person is present to ensure the child is in a safe and controlled environment when spending time with the non-residential parent.
Secondly, supervised contact can be at the changeover from the residential parent to the non-residential parent.
A supervisor will ensure the child is ‘handed over’ and ‘handed back’ safely.
Supervised contact can include either or both of these situations.
In some circumstances, the child may need to be gradually re-introduced to the non-residential parent and build up a relationship slowly.
These circumstances can include the non-custodial parent moving away for an extended period of time after the separation or the consequence of a, particularly bitter or difficult separation.
Alternatively, if the separation involved a high level of conflict, parents may also seek supervised contact to ‘hand over’ the child so that they do not need to see or speak to each other.
This would ensure a conflict-free environment for the child.
In other circumstances, there may be a history of family violence associated with the non-residential parent.
Supervised contact will protect the safety of both the residential parent and the child from any post-separation violence.
Finally, if the non-residential parent is associated with significant levels of drug or alcohol abuse, the supervised contact will ensure they are fit to care for the child during the contact.
Who Can Supervise Contact?
You could have an independent person supervise the contact.
There is a range of services provided by Catholic Care, Relationships Australia, or Children in Focus that provide the supervised contact in Sydney.
If both parents agree, the supervisor could be a relative, mutual friend of the family or an individual known to the parents. Even the custodial parent can supervise contact.
The parents can also hire an independent person from a children’s contact service for a fee.
You can also book a time at a supervised contact centre.
There are a number of contact centres but they are normally quite busy so you will need to book in advance.