Supervision Orders in Family Law Matters

Every day the Family Court and the Federal Circuit Court are asked to make Orders that are in the best interests of children. In undertaking this work the Court must first address the two primary considerations, namely:

  1. Promoting children having a meaningful relationship with both parents; and
  2. Protecting a child from harm.

When these two considerations are in conflict the Court must make Orders to protect a child from harm. Protecting a child from the risk of harm is where the emphasis lies in family law matters.

The difficult balancing act that follows from these primary considerations can sometime result in Orders being made for the supervision of the time a child or children spend with the parent who, it is alleged, presents an unacceptable risk to the child in all of the circumstances of that particular case.

Supervision Orders are usually met with a very mixed response. They are seen by many as being artificial, onerous and intrusive. They are by no means ideal but they may provide the best solution that the family law system can offer in certain cases.

Orders that provide for the time a child spends with his or her parent to be supervised:

  1. Can significantly protect a child from harm;
  2. Can provide a level of comfort to the parent with whom the child is living, usually the person who may have made an allegation of family violence or child abuse or assessed that the child is afraid of the other parent;
  3. Can protect an alleged perpetrator from unfounded allegations of family violence, child abuse and neglect;
  4. Can address a situation where a child has asked to have someone present;
  5. May be appropriate if the child hasn’t seen the parent for some time and a gradual reintroduction will help.
  6. Supervision Orders can redress an untested complaint that a parent’s capacity is significantly diminished.

If supervision Orders have already been made in your family law matter or if you believe that they may need to be considered in your case then what do you need to think about?

The kinds of questions that you will need to ask yourself include:

  1. Who should be the supervisor
  2. How should the supervisor be chosen?
  3. Should the supervisor be a person known to you, e.g. a mutual friend or family member, or a professionally paid supervisor?
  4. Is it realistic to commit to an arrangement requiring long term supervision?
  5. How often should the visits be supervised for?
  6. How frequent should the visits be?
  7. The circumstances of any supervision (and the associated costs) as these are significant factors.
  8. Is a Children’s Contact Centre an appropriate alternative? Often the waiting lists at these facilities can be long.
  9. Can other people, e.g. siblings and extended family members, attend a supervised visit?
  10. How should changeover occur?
  11. Who is going to meet the costs of supervision? The fees for a professional supervisor can run close to $100 per hour on average, often more. This can quickly become a prohibitively expensive arrangement.

Working through all of these questions when you are not under a strict time pressure, e.g. at Court, can help you develop the best strategy for your family if an Order for the supervision of time with the children is a possible outcome in your case.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers offer Accredited Family Law Specialists able to help you with all of these parenting questions and your parenting matter in general. We are conveniently located in St Leonards on Sydney’s Northshore within easy walking distance of the train station. Please contact us to find out more or speak to one of our specialists on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

Giving evidence in the Family Court

Do you need help giving evidence in the Family Court or the Federal Circuit Court in relation to family law parenting or property proceedings?

Giving evidence in any court case is daunting even for the most seasoned and experienced witness. This is possibly even more so in family law matters where the stakes are so high…the lives of your children and the financial security of your family are placed under the spotlight in family law cases.

Over the years I have seen many people give evidence in family law matters – some of them have been my clients, some of them have been witnesses in my client’s case, some of them have been court appointed experts and many of them have been witnesses for the other party in the proceedings.

There are a number of guidelines available to assist you if you are required to give evidence in any Court. In family law matters I feel that there are several tips that can help you both before you get into the Family Court and also when you are sitting in the witness box. Here are five of my best suggestions:

  1. Know your evidence. Read over your Affidavit before you come to Court. There is no need to learn your evidence “off by heart” but be comfortable with it and familiar with what you have said. If you realise that you have made a mistake with your evidence then let your legal team know before you step into the witness box. If you realise you have made a mistake when in Court don’t be afraid to bring it to the Court’s attention as soon as this mistake becomes known to you.
  2. Listen carefully to the question and don’t be afraid to ask for the question to be repeated or rephrased if you do not fully understand what is being asked. Don’t try and guess what they are wanting to know. Also, don’t try and think about where they are heading with their questions. Just take it one question at a time.
  3. Answer questions directly and briefly. If you can respond with a “yes” or “no” answer and not mislead the Court by doing this then that is usually the best response. Don’t volunteer a long winded story but if an answer requires an explanation don’t be shy to give that explanation as well.
  4. Give honest evidence. Do not be concerned if, when answering a question, you believe that it is an admission against you or the case that you are there to support. Honest admissions can actually make you a more credible witness and more likely to be accepted by the Judge as a witness of truth.
  5. Be polite. This tip applies equally to everyone in the courtroom in every situation. In practice it translates to:
    – Not talking when someone else is talking;
    – Not arguing with the family law barrister or solicitor asking the question even if they are trying to provoke you; and
    – Addressing the Judge and everyone in the courtroom respectfully.

In Australia, only about 6% of separating couples have the misfortune of having to go through a final hearing and face cross-examination of themselves and the witnesses in their case. If you have the misfortune of falling into that minority of family law matters that proceed to a final hearing then ensure that your family law team provide you and your witnesses with all the necessary support and guidance that is required both before the trial and also on the hearing day.

Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers are known to provide trusted family law advice and assistance as well ascourt representation of the highest quality. We understand that as part of that service we will need to provide you with guidance about the court process and preparation of your family law matter if it can’t be settled. We have Accredited Family Law Specialists who are experts in all areas of family law and have substantial experience in appearing in court. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you in your family law matter then contact us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au. We know we can help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.