Supervised time: When family courts order it

Supervised time may be ordered by the family courts where children are at risk in the care of a parent. The Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) places significant emphasis on the need to maintain a meaningful relationship for the child with each of his or her parents. However, this must be balanced against the need to protect the child from harm or risk of harm. Supervised time may be ordered in a number of situations. For example, where the child is at risk of physical or psychological harm in the company of a parent or where there is a risk of child sexual abuse. Supervised time may also be ordered where a parent suffers from addiction such as alcohol or drug addiction such that the child is at risk in that parent’s care.

Sometimes, the courts have referred to time spent “in the presence” of someone rather than always using the term “supervised time“. However, in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia in Elias & Elias [2019], the Court said that these terms are not terms of art that have different meanings. Instead, the ordinary meaning of both terms suggests that the person overseeing the child spending time with a parent subject to a supervision order must be constantly present. The term “in the presence of”does not involve any lesser form of supervision so that that term still requires that the child is not left alone with the parent, especially for any significant period of time.

If you would like effective legal advice concerning whether supervised time is likely to be ordered in your circumstances or regards any other area of family law, contact our experienced Brisbane Family Lawyers or our North Brisbane family lawyers. We can assist you in all areas of family law, including regards parenting orders, parenting plans, family law property settlement and maintenance claims. We offer complimentary advice during your first call with our Firm and a fixed fee initial consultation. You are also welcome to read on for further information right now………

In that case of Elias that we mentioned above, the Full Court considered that supervision naturally applies to professional supervision agencies whereas the term “in the presence of”more aptly applies to individuals such as family members providing supervision. The Full Court found that it was open to the trial judge to find that the child would be at an unacceptable risk in the unsupervised care of the father given the father’s state of mental health  and the fact that he had committed some family violence against the mother.

Contact our family lawyers Brisbane or family lawyers Brisbane Northside for advice regards any family law issues that concern you, whether in relation to supervised time or some other concern. We aim to assist our clients to reach agreement with their former partners without the need to go to court. If however court action becomes necessary, we have the experience to represent you at Court.

The information set out in this blog is not a substitute for legal advice. We recommend that you obtain advice tailored to your particular circumstances from our Brisbane family lawyers or our family lawyers Brisbane Northside.