When parents, or the court, determine parenting arrangements for a child, the best interests of the child is the only consideration.
Where there is credible evidence about one parent’s capacity to parent a child in a safe and positive manner, the court may order that a parent’s time with a child is conditional on the parent doing or not doing something, such as abstaining from drugs or alcohol.
Where there is significant evidence about a parent’s lack of capacity to parent, the parties may agree, or the court may order, that parenting time be supervised by either a professional or another responsible adult.
Supervised parenting time is an exceptional result that should only be required in very specific circumstances, including the following:
1. Long term harassment and harmful behaviours towards the custodial parent causing that parent and the child stress and or fear.
2. History of violence; unpredictable, uncontrollable behaviour; alcohol, drug abuse which has been witnessed by the child and/or presents a risk to the child’s safety and well-being.
3. Extreme parental alienation which has resulted in changes of custody and, at times, no access orders to the former custodial parent.
4. Ongoing severe denigration of the other parent.
5. Lack of relationship or attachment between noncustodial parent and child.
6. Neglect or abuse to a child on the access visits.
7. Older children’s wishes and preferences to terminate access.
At Brown Henderson Melbye, we represent clients who have genuine concerns about another person’s capacity to parent. In these cases, we work with our clients to help implement parenting plans, which can include professionally supervised parenting time, to help keep children safe.
Professionally-supervised parenting time can be an effective tool to educate an inexperienced parent. The goal is to build up parental skills, and strengthen the parent-child relationship, so that supervision is no longer required.
At Brown Henderson Melbye, we also represent clients who have been confronted with imagined or exaggerated accusations about their capacity to parent. These are often very difficult cases, and can require the use of appropriate professionals to make independent assessments of parenting capacity. Intervention by the court may also be required to ensure that there is no wrongful denial of parenting time.
The following are a list of links for supervised parenting resources in Victoria:
1. Phoenix Human Services: http://www.phoenixhumanservices.org/child-youth-and-family-services
2. Options Family Services: http://www.options.bc.ca/families-children/supervised-access-program
3. Cambiar Counselling (Michelle Patterson): Cambiar.firstname.lastname@example.org
4. S.A.F.E. – Supervised Access & Family Enrichment (Marcela Mrnka) email@example.com; http://supervisedaccess.shawwebspace.ca
5. TS Consulting – Transition Services for Families (Teh Stratton): www.tsconsultingvictoria.ca