In British Columbia, access with a child can subject to supervision when unsupervised parenting time is contrary to the child’s best interest. Access can be supervised by a trusted third party including family, friends, social workers, and so on.
This article outlines the legal framework governing orders for supervised access.
According to F.K. v. M.K., 2010 BCSC 563, supervision orders aim to:
- Protect children from risk of harm;
- Continue or promote parent-child relationships;
- Encourage or compel parents to undergo counselling or treatment to deal with parenting issues;
- Create a bridge between no relationship and a normal parenting relationship; and
- Avoid or reduce family conflict that impacts upon the children.
In V.S.J. v. L.J.G.,  O.T.C. 460 (S.C.J.), the Court stated that when terminating or restricting access, it is essential to weigh and balance the factors affecting the child’s best interest, including:
- The maximum contact principle;
- The right of a child to know and have a relationship with each parent;
- A limitation of a consideration of parental conduct to that conduct which impacts on the child;
- The risk of harm including emotional, physical and sexual harm;
- The nature of the relationship between the parents and its impact on the child;
- The nature of the relationship and attachment between the parent and the child; and
- The commitment of the parent to the child.
The Court in F.K. also advised that evidence of exceptional circumstances is usually required to obtain a supervision order because it is one step away from complete termination of the parent child relationship.
The above cases were decided under the Family Relations Act which has been replaced by the Family Law Act. However, as noted in Q.B. v. W.I.M., 2014 BCSC 219, the same principles continue to apply under the new law.
For a recent decision applying these principles, please see J.J.T. v. J.A.S., 2015 BCSC 628.
Jeffrey L. Hartman