Supervised visitation may occur as a part of a child custody order. Child custody actions can have several parameters, considerations, and requirements. We have discussed some of these extensively in the past. One of the things that we get asked about the most that is often misunderstood is supervised visitation. We understand that parents naturally worry about the well being of their children, but too often potential clients assume that they can mandate supervised visitation by the other party, when in fact, this is rarely deemed necessary.
In this blog, we will explain supervised visitation, when it occurs, and what circumstances would make that necessary. Like all of our blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only, and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a family law attorney.
What is supervised visitation?
Supervised visitation means that the parent for whom supervision is required is not allowed to be alone with the child. Rather, a third party (that is either agreed upon or ordered by the court) must be present at all times. Supervised visits may occur at a designated public meeting place, such as a park or restaurant, or may occur at someone’s residence. Mecklenburg County has a supervised exchange program that may also accommodate supervised visitation.
When can I ask for supervised visitation?
A party may always ask that the visitation of the other party be supervised. That does not mean that that specific request will be granted. Judges are not in the habit of imposing a barrier between a child and a parent unless it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. This is not an arbitrary decision that is taken lightly. A lot of facts have to be present for the judge to determine that a parent’s visits need to be supervised.
The safety and well being of the child are the primary concern in cases likes this, and such cases often involve a finding that the parent would place the child in some danger if supervision was not in place. Unless there is a valid issue regarding the safety, supervision, or well-being of the child, a judge will not arbitrarily order supervised visitation. To better illustrate this point, we have given some examples below.
When may supervision be required?
Supervised visitation may be ordered if one parent has mental health, substance addiction, or domestic violence issues that affect the care of the child.
Supervised visitation may be required if there is evidence of neglect or inability to care for the child.
Supervised visitation may be required if the parent lacks appropriate housing.
Supervised visitation may occur if the parent has a history of violence that raises concerns regarding the safety or welfare of the child.
Who can supervise?
A suitable adult may supervise the visitations. The person must be capable of providing proper supervision. This may be a person agreed upon by the parties or a person whom the judge orders to supervise. This is often a family member, such as a grandparent, aunt, or uncle.
Is supervised visitation always permanent?
No. Supervised visitation may be set to expire upon certain terms being met. Supervised visitation can also be addressed in a modification of child custody hearing if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred.
If you believe supervised visitation may be required or if you are concerns about supervised visitation, child custody, or another family law matter, contact us to set up a consultation with a family law attorney.