The Ins & Outs of Supervised Contact

What is supervised contact?

Supervised contact is when the time a non-residential parent spends with their child takes place in the presence of an independent person.

The independent person could be a relative, for example, a mutual friend of the family or the child’s grandparent, or the independent person could be provided by a service provider for a fee.

The supervision can take place at hand-over (when the residential parent provides the child for the contact), or for the entire visit.

Why would I need my contact to be supervised?

In some circumstances, non-residential parents may have an extended period of time away from their child following separation for work, or due to a particularly acrimonious separation. In these circumstances, and depending on other factors such as the age of the child, and the nature of the relationship between the non-residential parent and the child, it may be beneficial for the child to have a gradual reintroduction to the non-residential parent and to slowly build up the relationship.

In other cases, the residential parent may have concerns about the non-residential parent’s relationship with the child, and may be somewhat fearful of the non-residential parent spending time alone with the child. In these circumstances, agreeing to a certain amount of supervised contact to begin with can assist in building the residential parent’s trust in the non-residential parent.

Alternatively, if the residential parent and the non-residential parent have a very high level of conflict, supervised contact can provide a hand-over service where the parents do not have to see or speak to each other, thus providing a conflict free environment for the child.

In still other cases, there may historically have been issues of family violence, and supervised contact may be necessary to ensure the safety of the child, and also the safety of the residential parent, as post separation parent / child contact can provide a significant risk for post-separation violence to occur.

Finally, if there are concerns about significant levels of drug use and alcohol abuse by the non-residential parent, supervised contact allows for the non-residential parent to be assessed prior to the contact to ensure that they are able to care for the child.

How can Supervised Contact benefit my child?

Supervised contact is child focussed.

The main benefit of Supervised Contact is in providing the child with a safe and secure space for them to spend time with a non-residential parent.

The supervision means that the non-residential parent and child are free to spend time together, and allows for regular contact, in an environment where the child can seek assistance if they become upset or fearful, and where the supervisor can intervene at any time should the need arise.

How do I arrange for supervised contact?

Where both parents agree, they can seek supervised contact with a family friend or relative, or can approach a service provider.

In other cases, one parent may seek to have the contact supervised, and if the other parent disagrees, it is open for the Family Court to make an order that the contact is supervised, either for a set period of time, or on an ongoing basis.

Could it help my Family Court application?

Agreeing to at least some initial supervised contact is unlikely to make the non-residential parent appear in a negative light.

Arguably, it could be perceived as the non-residential parent doing all that they can to enable them to spend time with their child, and to make every effort to ensure that their child feels safe and comfortable with the contact at all times.

Further, as either of the parties, or the Family Court, are able to request reports of the contact, the reports will be able to be provided to the Court to confirm that the time the non-residential parent spends with the child is progressing well.

In circumstances where there has been a significant period that the non-residential parent has not spent time with the child, or where a parent or child needs to build up the trust for an ongoing relationship, these reports can be useful in progressing to non-supervised contact.

For more information on this article or any other family law matters please contact our Family Law Team on (08) 9321 3755.

The information published on this website is of a general nature and should not be construed as legal advice. Whilst we aim to provide timely, relevant and accurate information, the law may change and circumstances may differ. You should not therefore act in reliance on it without first obtaining specific legal advice.