Child custody: How can the Supervised Access Program help?
Divorced or separated parents in Ontario who are concerned about their safety or the safety of their children during visits with the other parents or at the time of the exchange have the option to use the Supervised Access Program. The court can order the utilization of this program as part of the child custody order, or the parent can agree to use it with a written, signed agreement. The Ministry of the Attorney General provides centres for supervised visits or exchanges across Ontario.
A parent who thinks visitation with their ex-spouse may threaten the safety of his or her children or that the other parent may not return the kids after the visit can arrange visits at one of these centres. This visitation will be supervised, and it will be in a group setting. The program is ideal for situations in which the other parent may be a known drug or alcohol addict, and, in a case in which there is a history of abuse. Supervisors are trained to identify impairment by alcohol or drugs and ensure the safety of the children during visitations.
The centres are also ideal for exchanges when one parent has reason to believe the other parent may cause them harm. Handing the children over in the presence of other people can ensure safety. Here too, supervisors can make sure the other parent is not impaired before he or she takes the kids away.
Any Ontario parent may apply to be part of the Supervised Access Program. A person can discuss the requirements and application process with his or her divorce lawyer during meetings about child custody in the divorce, and the lawyer can request that the court issue such an order. If this was not done at the time of the divorce, a lawyer can assist with drafting and agreement for both parents to sign and explain the fees and regulations involved.