A parent can apply to the court to order the other parent to have supervision during visits with the child. The application must include thorough information about the circumstances, along with a detailed supervision proposal.
When supervised visits are ordered by the court, it is often a temporary situation, as the parent is given the opportunity to earn the right to unsupervised visits.
Supervised visits are usually ordered when there is a concern for the child’s well-being under a parent’s care, due to circumstances such as abuse, substance issues, or lack of parenting skills.
The person appointed as supervisor will be specified in the order. The other parent is usually not appointed as a supervisor, but there are cases when the parents will make an agreement that one parent can visit with the child, for instance, while the other parent is close by.
A person appointed by the court as a supervisor could be a family consultant, social worker, or representative from a community service agency.
Jill unfortunately did not have access to the supervisory services available in bigger cities when she was going through her divorce. Her son’s father, David, had issues with alcohol abuse and struggled with anger management, so the court ordered that his visits with their son be supervised.
However, they lived in a sparsely populated rural area, and the supervisory services that are available in many cities were not accessible to them. David’s mother volunteered to be the supervisor for visits between David and his son, but Jill explained that David’s mother did not believe he had a problem with drinking and rage, so could not be trusted to be a reliable and unbiased supervisor in the situation.
Therefore, the court did not approve the request. The child’s godmother was then nominated to be supervisor, and that request was accepted.
Whoever is chosen for the role must be able to carry out the responsibilities of supervising the parent, helping them learn parenting skills, and determining whether or not a parent is allowed to continue having time with the child.
Many types of assistance are available to help parents to maintain contact with their children throughout a separation or divorce process. Some people use government services, while others use charities or other family support organisations.
If a court requires you to have supervision while spending time with your child, you can use one of these resources to provide a chaperone or a meeting place where you and your child can spend time while you get some parenting support and advice. There are also people available to help with the drop-off and pickup of your child when he/she is going from one parent to the other. This way, the parents can avoid having an uncomfortable exchange or an unnecessary conflict.
All you need to do to take advantage of one of these services is to apply at one of the organisations. They will assess the needs of your family and tell you if they can help. There is often a waiting list, so lining up several options is a good idea.
A changeover is when a parent transfers the care of the child to the other parent at an agreed-upon time. Many parents find this to be a good time to communicate about the children. Others, especially those who are newly separated, lash out at the other parent during the changeover. This can obviously become a very upsetting situation for the child. Changeovers which involve emotional exchanges, arguments, threats, anger, and violence often take place in the former family home. Thus, it is recommended to choose a neutral location for the changeover, at least in the beginning.
Paul and Debra found that it was much easier to ensure a smooth, drama-free changeover of their daughter when they met at the playground instead of at either home. They both found that it was not as tempting to become emotional and engage in an angry exchange when at a public place, where they feared making a scene in the presence of others.
Melissa and Ron had a very contentious separation, so they did not even want to see each other at all. So, they arranged that Ron would bring their sons to Melissa’s mother’s house when it was time for a changeover, and Melissa would come an hour later to pick them up.
Other neutral locations where a changeover could take place include a fast-food restaurant, a parking lot, a grocery store, school, day-care, a child or family service agency, or (in serious situations) a police station.
If the changeover continues to be problematic, the parents should draw up a detailed written agreement or seek orders from the court.