Supervised access means that  access to the children can only occur in the presence of someone else. The purpose is to ensure that the children will be safe.

There are supervised access centers run by the government that will provide supervised access at their facilities in some cities including Barrie. Often the supervisor is a family member or friend instead of the government so as to avoid the costs and to be able to have the supervision on site.

Supervised access is unusual. The Court has to feel that the children are at risk of harm if access is not supervised. For example, if the access parent has been abusive of children in the past or has attempted to alienate the children from the other spouse, supervised access may be ordered.

Sometimes there simply needs to be supervised exchanges of the children to ensure the parents are not hostile toward each other in the presence of the children. Instead of going to a supervised access center, some parents will agree to exchange the children at a public location such as the local Tim Horton’s, so as to minimize the likelihood of a nasty exchange. 

In a recent case called Smith v. Morrison [2009} O.J. No 3529, the court ordered supervised access to the mother because she had a drug addiction and suffered from depression. A lot of people suffer from depression but apparently this mother was not actively seeking treatment for it. There were other facts too working against her. In the end, the court felt that the children were at risk of being harmed if left in the mother’s care without supervision. Normally supervised access is imposed on a temporary basis but, as in this case, it can be made a permanent order.

Supervised access is always an option to be considered in high conflict situations.