Supervised visitation is a type of arrangement in Australia that allows a parent to have contact with their child in a controlled and supervised environment. This usually occurs when there are concerns about the safety or well-being of the child. This type of arrangement is typically ordered by a court or agreed upon by the parents as part of a parenting plan or court order.
The cost of supervised visitation can vary depending on the specific circumstances and arrangements made. In most cases, the cost may be borne by the parent who is requesting the supervised visitation. In other cases it may be shared between both parents or covered by government funding or other sources. It is important for parents to clarify and agree upon the financial arrangements for supervised visitation as part of their parenting plan or court order.
If a custodial parent or the court has concerns about the safety and well-being of a child when they are with a parent, a judge may order a supervised contact visit. These concerns are typically based on past behaviour exhibited by that parent. Such concerns may arise due to various reasons including, but not limited to:
While supervised contact is often decided upon to mitigate the risk of harm to the child, it can also serve as a way for a parent to gradually reintroduce themselves to their child. This is usually after a prolonged period of separation. There may be situations where a parent has had limited or no access to the child due to reasons such as work commitments or a contentious separation from the other custodial parent.
Supervised contact may be established through various means, including:
In any case, the purpose of supervised contact is to provide a structured and monitored environment that ensures the safety and well-being of the child while facilitating contact between the parent and the child.
It is overseen by a neutral third party, such as a supervisor approved by the court or agreed upon by the parties. The supervisor monitors the interaction and intervenes if necessary to ensure compliance with the court order or parenting plan. The ultimate goal is to prioritise the best interests of the child while addressing any concerns or risks that may exist in the parent-child relationship.
In Australia, there are rules and guidelines for supervised visits to ensure the safety and well-being of the child. These rules may vary depending on the state or territory, and they may be outlined in legislation or court orders. Some common rules for supervised visits in Australia include:
Supervised visits may take place in a designated location, such as a supervised visitation contact centre, or in another agreed-upon location. The duration of visits may be determined by the court or agreed upon by the parents.
The supervisor must be present at all times during the visit and actively monitor the interaction between the parent and the child. The supervisor may have the authority to intervene or terminate the visit if necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the child.
The court or parenting plan may impose conditions on the visitation, such as prohibiting the parent from consuming alcohol or drugs during the visit, requiring the parent to undergo drug or alcohol testing, or prohibiting the parent from discussing certain topics with the child.
The supervisor may be required to provide reports or documentation to the court or relevant authorities regarding the progress of the supervised visits, any incidents or concerns that arise during the visits, and the well-being of the child.
The court or relevant authorities may periodically review and modify the supervised visitation arrangement. This is based on the progress of the visits, changes in circumstances, or the best interests of the child.
When a parent is unable or unwilling to meet face-to-face for child visitation, they can agree to have another family member or a children’s contact service worker supervise the changeover. The supervisor’s responsibility is to ensure that the child’s best interests are protected during the contact visitation with the parent or other person.
Supervised contact can be agreed upon informally between the parties, or it can be documented formally through consent orders or ordered by a court. However, the court cannot appoint someone as a supervisor if they do not want to do it. Prospective supervisors should be aware that they may be required to give evidence in court if any issues arise during the supervised contact.
If you have been ordered by the court to attend a children’s contact service, the service will do its best to help you comply with the order. However certain criteria’s must be met by you and the other parent, and the service must have the available facilities and resources to assist.
Children’s contact services may be required to provide reports on observations of the parents and child during changeovers or contact visits. Supervised contact orders are usually made for a set period of time with the goal of eventually no longer needing supervision.
If orders for supervised contact do not state an end time, the contact parent can apply to the court to have the orders changed. Changes to supervisors or contact days can also be applied for. Children’s contact services typically charge fees for changeovers and supervised visits, which are usually shared between the parties.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties, you can inform the service as arrangements may be in place to help you access the service. The Family Support Program, funded by the Australian Government, supports various community-based organisations in providing these services.
If you are looking to find a supervised visitation centre in Australia, there are several avenues you can explore. Here are some steps you can take:
Contact the Family Court or Federal Circuit Court: The Family Court or Federal Circuit Court in your local area can provide information and guidance on supervised visitation centres. You can visit their website or call their helpline to inquire about supervised visitation services available in your area.
Seek Legal Advice: If you have legal representation, your lawyer can provide you with information on supervised visitation centres in Australia. They can guide you on the process of finding a suitable centre and may have recommendations based on your specific circumstances.
Consult with Family Law Practitioners: Family law practitioners, including family lawyers, mediators, or counsellors, may have information on supervised visitation contact centres in Australia. They may be able to provide you with referrals or recommendations based on their knowledge and experience in the field.
Utilise Online Resources: There are various online resources available that provide information on supervised visitation centres in Australia. You can search online directories, websites of family law organizations, or government websites that offer information and resources related to family law matters.
Contact Family Support Organisations: Family support organisations, such as child welfare agencies or community-based organisations, may be able to provide information on supervised visitation centres in your local area. They may also offer support and guidance in finding a suitable centre for your needs.
Reach out to Local Community Services: Local community services, such as community health centres or family support centres, may have information on supervised visitation services in your area. They may also be able to provide you with referrals or recommendations based on your needs.
When searching for a supervised visitation centre in Australia, it’s important to consider factors such as location, cost, and the qualifications of the supervisors. In addition, you may wish to visit the centre and meet with the supervisors in person to assess the suitability of the facility for your specific situation. Consulting with child custody lawyers in Sydney can provide valuable guidance throughout the process of finding a supervised visitation centre in Australia.
The role of a supervisor in supervised visitation is crucial. The supervisor is responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of the child during the visitation period. The supervisor may be a neutral third party, such as a social worker, psychologist, or another trained professional, or a trusted family member.
It could also be a friend who is approved by the court or agreed upon by the parents. The supervisor’s main role is to monitor the visit and intervene if necessary to ensure that the child is safe and that the visitation is proceeding according to the court order or parenting plan.
Supervisors are expected to remain neutral and not take sides in any disputes between the parents. They are responsible for facilitating a positive and safe interaction between the parent and the child, and for documenting any incidents or concerns that arise during the visitation. The supervisor may also provide feedback and recommendations to the court or relevant authorities regarding the progress of the supervised visits and the well-being of the child.
If you require advice regarding obtaining supervised visitation with your child, contact our team of family lawyers in Parramatta. We can provide you with a free 15 minute phone consultation to understand your specific situation and provide you with family law advice.