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What is ’supervised access’ ?

By: Steven Benmor, B.Sc., LL.B., Family Lawyer

Jurisdiction: Ontario (Canada)

Sometimes, parents separate because of domestic violence, substance abuse or because there is significant antagonism between the parents. There are also instances where there has been a lengthy separation between the parent and child. Sometimes, one parent does not interact appropriately with a child, possibly causing emotional distress to the child. There may be a risk of abduction.

In these cases, the child’s health and safety must be protected during access visits. Supervised access centres offer such parents a method to address these issues while still allowing access visits to occur. These centres provide a safe and secure setting where access visits and exchanges (pick-ups and drop-offs) can take place under the supervision of trained staff and volunteers. Staff and volunteers have special skills and are trained to be aware of issues such as family violence, child development, physical, verbal and emotional abuse, mental health and substance abuse problems. Staff and volunteers are sensitive to the needs of the child, particularly children who are involved in high conflict custody and access disputes.

Supervised access centres provide a safe, neutral and child-focused setting for access visits between a child and the access parent. Supervised access centres ensure the safety of families, staff and volunteers by staggering drop-off and pick-up times, having staff greet the child at the front door and accompany the child during the visit, and by providing enclosed play areas. Some centres record and provide factual observations of the visits.

As an alternative to using a supervised access centre, the parents may both agree to allow a family member or friend to supervise the access visits or to facilitate exchanges.

Steven Benmor

About the author: Steven Benmor practices Family Law in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Visit Steven Benmor’s online Family Law Resource Center for concise answers to many more frequently asked Family law questions, feature articles on Family law topics, dozens of links to other Family law websites, and more at The information on this page is for discussion purposes only. It is by no means legal advice or even a statement of the law on this subject. Please do not rely on the accuracy or completeness of this information. Any question or concern elicited by the information on this page should be taken to a lawyer who will consider the facts of each case and the legal remedies available.