In some child custody and visitation cases, it is appropriate to ask the court for the other parent to have supervised visitation. When this occurs and one parent asks the court for an order that the other parent have only monitored or supervised visits, the court must decide what is in the child’s best interest. A “supervised visit” is when the non-custodial parent is limited to visitation when either a trustworthy individual is present or in some cases when a professional monitor has been hired.
The court has the authority to order supervised visits either temporarily or permanently. These situations commonly arise when one parent makes an allegation of:
- Domestic violence,
- Anger or impulse control issues, or
- Sexual improprieties (towards the child or other minors).
Importance of Visitation
Courts rarely will terminate visitation entirely but may make an order providing for supervised visitation. The idea is that children need contact with their parents even though they don’t always understand the risks that come with being around their parents. Supervision is intended to ensure that the children’s visitation occurs within a safe context.
Supervised Visitation by an Agency
Supervision can be provided by family members, third parties or by professional agencies that offer supervised visitation on a fee-for-service basis. In some cases, both parents are able to agree on a family member or friend to provide supervised visitation. However, the parents may not agree in many cases and a professional agency must be used. These agencies charge a fee for their service and have established ground rules for the visit. These ground rules can involve such things as:
- Parent dropping child off must remain in the parking lot;
- Supervision to observe and hear all conversation between child and parent and observe touching such as hugs, etc.
- Sometimes these agencies include a written report of their supervision which can be helpful in court regarding frequency of visits, quality of visits, and observations of comfort level between parent and child;
- Rules regarding gifts and food preparation when facilities are available.
Supervised Visitation by a Family Member
Supervised visits by family members or friends are preferred in many instances because persons who know the child can be utilized to provide a safe and comfortable home environment for visitation to occur. These kinds of visits also do not generally have a fee involved.
The challenges with non-agency supervised visitation is that one parent or the other will often try and utilize a highly partisan family member or friend that is not impartial. When this occurs, the quality and integrity of the supervision is compromised and may even result in danger to the child. Ultimately, the court will decide based on what the judge perceives is in the best interest of the child.
Call the Family Law Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich
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