In divorce cases where one parent has a history of abusing alcohol or drugs, or history of exhibiting violent behaviour, he/she is allowed to visit the child only if those visits are supervised. Supervised visitation centres are a type of child contact centres.
When situations in divorce or separation cases get particularly heated, people often resort to irrational behaviours like being violent towards the former spouse, or taking to alcohol/drugs. Unfortunately, these instances are very common.
In such situations when a parent wants to ensure that he/she continues to receive child visitation privileges, they can only do so when being supervised by another adult. This is because the court deems that the child would otherwise be at risk of harm from that parent.
This article will explore what supervised visitation centres are. In doing so, let’s answer three important questions: –
- What is supervised contact?
- What is the meaning of child contact centres?
- What are the purposes of child contact centres or reasons for supervised visitation centres?
What Is Supervised Contact?
In Australia legislation, under best interests of the child as mentioned in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act (1975), a primary consideration is that the child should have a meaningful and healthy relationship with both his/her parents.
This is why in divorce and separation cases, family courts will always encourage both parties to make parenting arrangements such that both parents enjoy equal time with the child. Moreover, the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility also applies.
This means that both parties will have equal rights and responsibilities in relation to the child. For instance, where any short-term or long-term decision need to be made in the child’s life, both parents will need each other’s consent when finalising such decisions.
The only case where one parent’s consent will not be required is when he/she has exposed the child to serious harm in the form of abuse or neglect, and therefore the other parent has been given sole parental responsibility.
Importantly, if one parent has sole custody of the child, the other parent will still be permitted to visit the child. Only in very extreme cases such as those involving physical or sexual abuse will “no contact orders” be made against that parent.
In other instances, where a parent has sole custody or sole parental responsibility because the other parent has a history of abusing drugs or being violent, the court will order that the other parent can have supervised contact with the child.
Supervised contact is ordered to ensure that the child remains safe and protected. This is required to prevent any harm that could potentially be caused to the child. Supervision can be offered by family or friends, or by availing services offered by supervised visitation centres – which are a type of child contact centres.
What Are Child Contact Centres?
Child contact centres are places where the non-custodial parent, or non-resident parent can visit the child. These are neutral places which generally have facilities to reflect a home-like environment.
Child contact centres include supervised visitation centres wherein there are independent people who will ensure that the child feels safe, and has an overall positive experience while meeting the non-custodial parent.
Supervised visitation centres are the alternative to supervised contact which is done at someone’s residence. In such cases either a family member or some friends offer supervision – if it is so ordered by the court.
But if family courts order that these visits take place in specific locations – they will most likely suggest that all visitation arrangements be made at supervised visitation centres.
Reasons Why Supervised Visitation Centres Are Considered
Child contact services or supervised visitation centres are considered in some scenarios. These include when:
- One parent has a history of drug abuse or alcohol abuse which could potentially harm the child.
- Contact with the parent has been resumed after a long-period of time therefore the custodial parent is concerned.
- One parent has made allegations against the parent in question in relation to domestic violence, family violence, child abuse (sexual, physical or psychological), serious neglect or abandonment.
- There are allegations that the parent in question could abduct the child
- Families have experienced harmful or dangerous situations in the past which poses a threat to the safety of the child.
How To Access Supervised Visitation Centres?
You can make bookings at private supervised visitation centres where there is an hourly fee of around $200 per hour. Alternatively, national organisations such as Relationships Australia also provide such services across the country.
If parties are after independent supervisors, they can contact professionals without attending such centres.
JB Solicitors’ Family Lawyers For Your Legal Needs
When dealing with divorce and separation, the issues of visitation and custody is all the more stressful when it involves history of violence or abuse of alcohol by one party.
This would be a demanding period in your life. To make things around visitations and/or custody easier, it is essential that you seek legal guidance from those who wish the best for you.
At JB Solicitors, our family lawyers put great efforts while handling each matter. For us, your legal troubles become ours when you are seeking our advice. With years of experience under our belt, we can offer market-leading family law advice to you.
Legal procedures are known to be complicated and lengthy. However, when you have a solicitor by your side, you can rest assured that your legal issues will be resolved quickly. Our goal is to reach the best possible outcome, and we do so by providing tailored-advice to our clients.
We’ve been in the industry for many years and are well-aware of how expensive these matters can get. To ease your financial burden, we offer fixed-fee prices so you can plan your legal journey beforehand.
Contact our compassionate team of lawyers today.