Frequently Asked Questions
Supervised contact is ordered by the Court and continues until the Court decides otherwise. It is most often used when one parent has been violent, either towards the other parent or towards the children. Supervised contact has given many parents the chance to rebuild solid relationships with their children. The parent or other person whose contact with the child is being supervised will need to apply to the Court for it to allow unsupervised contact. The Court will have to be satisfied that the child will be safe. In many cases the relationship between the adult and the child improves relatively quickly to the point where supervision is no longer needed.
All supervisors will have rules. Clear rules help keep everyone involved safe. It's best that rules and expectations are clarified and agreed on before the contact visit. Both the children's caregiver and the visiting adult may have to sign a contract setting out the rules and what is expected. Some rules may be about that visit only, such as times for each of them to arrive and leave, what time the contact will take place, and how long the session will last. Or they may be general, such as no smoking or using cellphones during the session.
In cases of violence when the Court orders supervised contact by an organisation, the cost of the sessions is subsidised by the Government.
Sessions are more positive if the children choose what happens during them. You can then follow their lead and join in and have fun. Talk should be about play - not about adult issues. If the children ask a tricky question, try changing the subject or distracting them. When it's time to go, you may be feeling emotional, but take care not to upset your children. They need to know that you're OK. This is a good time for a hug if the children want one - and then a quick, happy, positive goodbye.
The visits should be a happy time for the children. The children's caregiver and the visiting adult are both likely to be feeling anxious, but they should try not to show this to the children, whether before, during or after the sessions. Children will feel more confident if they feel that the adults are confident about the new situation. Most children will settle easily into their new contact routine with few problems. But remember that children can take time to adjust to change. They are usually aware of tension between the adults, even if it's unspoken, and they may feel torn between them. Often they feel confused about the relationships in the family. If the caregiver or visiting adult have any concerns, they should talk with the supervisor about what to do.
Supervisors will not take sides, even if they're related to one of the parents. Their focus must be the children and their best interests.
This will vary. The person with day-to-day care should feel free to ask, but they should remember that confidentiality may be an issue. However, if there's an issue about the children's safety, this takes priority over confidentiality. If supervised contact has been ordered and paid for by the Court, the organisation doing the supervising will report to the Court.