Domestic violence - What happens when supervised time for children isn't an option?
When there are accusations of violence by a parent towards a child in parenting disputes, the Court is often torn between making Orders to completely prevent contact between that parent and children (in circumstances where cases often take years to be finalised), and putting the child in a position where there is risk. The popular option is to make an Order for supervised time.
Supervised time is an Order that allows a parent to have access to their children under the supervision of a third party agreed to during the proceedings, or an agency approved by the Court.
Agencies offering these services, whilst an important resource, aren’t government funded and are therefore available only to those with the ability to pay for them. With costs for transport, use of space and for employees who physically supervise the time, fees can accumulate excessively in a matter of weeks. Because of this, judges are being faced with the question of whether Orders for the use of agencies for supervised time are realistic as a long term solution.
The Family Court of Australia considered these issues in the case of Fortin & Fortin, handing down judgement on 9 November 2015. In this case, when considering Orders for permanent supervised time, the Court took the father’s financial circumstances into account, determining that supervised time should only be a stop gap measure that is altered and changed to unsupervised time if and when parties are able to address the issues that lead to supervision being required.
With the use of supervision agencies become more common, there may be benefit in the Family Court being able to implement more complex Orders that provide a long-term solution for parties who are unable to access supervised time long-term, to take steps to have these arrangements changed.
If you have any questions regarding supervised time or parenting disputes please contact our Family Law team: