One of the toughest issues in family law is how to deal with a case where one parent alleges that the children are not safe with the other parent. I see those allegations frequently in my cases. When that allegation is made there are two issues that then arise. 1) is it true, or at least is there enough of a risk that it is true, that the child or children will not be safe with a parent and 2) if it is true what can be done to make sure the children are safe. The answer to the second question is usually some form of supervised access.
If you think you might be in one of these cases, you absolutely need to get legal advice right away. Even just a consultation with a lawyer is far better than trying to navigate these issues totally on your own.
Here are some issues that you might want to consider and discuss with your lawyer:
- What is the concern that is leading to this allegation?
- What tests can be done or information can be provided to either verify or disprove the allegation? Can, for example, drug testing be done? Are there third parties such as doctors, teachers, friends or neighbours who might be useful witnesses?
If you are the one who is alleging that the children are not safe, you are likely going to want to gather as much corroborating evidence as possible as quickly as possible. Your simply saying that the other parent is not safe will probably not be enough. If it is at all possible, you are going to want to have an affidavit from at least one other person and hopefully more than that. Consider whether you have emails or pictures providing corroboration. Consider whether there is medical evidence or police notes or some kind of official record of that kind that can be used. If the allegation is being made against you, consider whether that allegation can easily be disproved by providing some kind of medical test. Consider whether you have witnesses who can prove that a specific allegation is false or at least provide testimony that they don’t believe those allegations to be true and that they would personally trust you with their children. Consider whether you have helpful emails or text messages or pictures.
What kind of supervision:
If supervision is going to be needed, you will want to think about what that should look like. At the most extreme end, the province runs supervised centres that could be used. It is also possible to hire a private professional supervisor. A step down from that would be to have a friend or family member supervise. A step down from that, or in combination, would be to have access occur in a public place. Some people us a library or a McDonalds Playland or go somewhere like the ROM or the Aquarium. The type of concern is going to help dictate the specific solution that makes sense.
Again, if you fall into this kind of case you need to move very quickly to gather information and put something in place. You also need to move very quickly to get legal advice.