Supervised contact is where contact occurs between a parent and a child in a safe and controlled place with someone such as a relative, professional supervisor or professional supervised contact organisation involved. 

Supervised contact is a way for children to safely rebuild their relationship with a parent who may have previously been displaying unsafe parenting or violent behaviour and it can be directed by the Family Court.

Usually supervised contact is ordered by the Court either at the beginning of a Court case (when there has been an urgent application filed by one parent against the other) or at any time throughout the Court proceeding, if the Court has concerns about the child’s safety in one parent’s care. 

The main reason for the Court ordering supervised contact is if the Judge has concerns about the child’s safety in the care of that parent.  This could be because the child has witnessed or experienced family violence from a parent, or the child has been neglected by a parent. 

Supervised contact can also be ordered if a parent has not had contact with their child for a considerable time and enables the relationship between the child and the parent to be built up from a period when no contact has occurred. 

It is also common in some cases where parents have been released from prison to have supervised contact to rebuild the relationship with the child, but conditions are often made to ensure the child is safe at contact and that parent’s parole conditions are not in conflict with contact.

Also, if a parent is facing criminal charges through the District Court, a Family Court Judge may order professionally supervised contact for the parent with the child if the alleged offending affects the safety of the child. 

A Parenting Order will indicate who will supervise the contact and when, and if it is an approved organisation for a professional supervisor. The cost of this is sometimes met by the Court. The Court can review any supervised contact arrangement at any time, especially if there is also a Temporary Protection Order in place. 

You may be in a position where you are facing supervised contact with your child or you are wanting supervised contact to be put in place for your child with their parent. You need to know what your rights and options are.

Shaun Cousins
Family Lawyer
Wellington, New Zealand

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