In some parenting situations, one parent withholds the child from the other parent for reasons related to family violence, substance abuse issues, inappropriate discipline, inadequate parenting skills or neglect, lack of parenting experience or other significant concerns.
In other situations, the child is withheld as a control tactic to dictate and control the other parent. The Primary Parent frequently claims that safety is the issue then imposes conditions “for safety” that exceed what would be reasonable or necessary to protect the child from harm.
Court is an option for a parent to regain access to their withheld child.
Based on the facts of the case, access to the child could be enforced by the court or granted with conditions like supervised visits until the safety concerns are resolved. A parent could be court ordered to take a drug test, to provide personal information from specified healthcare providers, proof of attendance at counselling, proof of completion of a parenting or anger management course, reunification therapy with the child or any other terms that address the safety concerns.
Professional Supervision Agencies
When supervision is court ordered: the supervisor is approved by the court, selected with permission from the parents or professional supervision agencies such as:
The Edmonton Family Network recommends using a professional supervision agency whenever possible in high conflict situations. Professional agencies are neutral to the situation and they provide notes from each visit. The notes can be used as evidence in court to confirm the details and outcome of the visit.
When supervised visits must be in a public location, the visits should be scheduled in child friendly location such as an indoor playground. Child friendly venues help make the experience memorable for the child in comparison to sitting at a restaurant. It is also important to plan activities (ie, bring colouring books and snacks) to keep time productive until the supervised visits can be transitioned to a more natural or home-like environment. Every minute counts when visits are limited. Plan ahead.