Supervision Orders in Family Law Matters

29th september 2015

By Lisa Wagner

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.

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