The are two important considerations when dealing with a parenting orders

The court has two primary considerations (Family Law Act Section 60CC 2A) to ponder when making a parenting order

  • The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with his parents;
  • The need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm, from being subjected or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence.

However, due to amendments to the law, greater weight is given to the safety of the child than the latter having a meaningful relationship with his parents. The amendments to the law provide that when an interested person has alleged that there is family violence or a risk of it they must file with the court a notice of child abuse.

Once that notice is filed, courts are required to take prompt action. They must ensure the safety of the child and gather evidence as expeditiously as possible. When there is a significant risk to the child of harm while being under a parent’s care, the court can order for supervised contact.

The supervised contact order from the court will state when and the duration of time that the child will spend with the non-resident parent. The government has a funded children’s contact services which provide a neutral venue that is safe and controlled for the child to have interaction with the parent who is ordered to have supervised contact. Availing of the children’s contact services is optional. Usually, it is parents who have a high level of conflict that avail of such services.

When a supervised contact order is issued, it only means that to the court the paramount consideration is the best interest of the child. Through the supervised contact sessions, the child can still maintain the relationship with the non-resident parent without risk to his safety. The child will be placed in a protected environment where he/she can move freely and be at ease without any worries for his safety.

The guardian of the supervised contact will be closely observing the interaction between parent and child. Anything that transpires during the supervised contact is reported back to the court. Hence, nothing is confidential.