In an ideal world, children should be able to spend time with their parents or significant other people without the need for a third party to be present to oversee that contact.
For varying reasons, it may not be considered to be in a child’s best interest for them to have unsupervised contact. It could be that a parent is considered to be a risk or it could simply be that child has not seen the parent for some time and needs the reassurance of someone they know being present.
Who would supervise the contact?
It could be supervised by parent with whom the child lives, a relative or a friend of the parent. In cases where there has been a history of domestic abuse, it may not be appropriate for a mother to supervise her ex partner’s contact.
The person who supervises the child’s contact should be somebody the child is familiar with so that in the event of the child becoming upset or distressed, there is somebody on hand that the child knows that they can turn to.
Where should the contact take place?
The venue for supervised contact needs to be considered. For example, it may not be appropriate for a woman who has been the victim of domestic abuse to supervise the father’s contact in her home. In other cases, contact at the child’s home is appropriate as it will be an environment they are comfortable in. If there is a concern that the father may run off with the child, supervised contact in the community may not be appropriate.
If neither parent is able to put forward an agreed third party who can supervise the contact, contact can take place at a contact centre. These centres are usually open on a Saturday and the contact is normally for two or three hours at a time.
If there are court proceedings and the court and CAFCASS (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) considered it appropriate, a referral could be made to Core Assets who would supervise twelve sessions of contact. Core Assets would provide a record of their observations during contact.
A child has a right to have a relationship with both their parents and that relationship is more likely to develop when the child and parent are not having to be monitored and observed during contact.
The hope is that as the child becomes familiar with that parent again or any concerns that led to contact needing to be supervised in the first place can be addressed, it will enable that child’s contact with their parent to progress to the point where it no longer needs to be supervised.