Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation is when the noncustodial parent can visit with the child only when supervised by another adult. It is used to keep the child safe, while supporting the parent–child relationship. It also guarantees the custodial parent knows where the child is during visits.

Supervised visitation (also called supervised contact, supervised parenting time and the like) is different from supervised exchanges, which protect parents from each other and prevent the child from witnessing conflict.

If supervised visitation is necessary, the court will order it and it will be part of the parenting plan. The parents may also need to make a visitation schedule so that the supervised visits can happen.

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When supervised visitation is necessary

Supervised visitation may be necessary when:

  • There has been physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of the child by a parent
  • There has been physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of one parent by the other parent
  • A parent has a substance abuse problem
  • A parent has an uncontrolled mental illness that poses harm to the child
  • There is risk of kidnapping or abduction by one of the parents
  • A parent has neglected the child
  • A parent has been absent from the child's life and wants to start a relationship with the child
  • There have been any potentially dangerous family situations

Often, supervised visitation is a temporary arrangement that can lead to unsupervised visitation if the noncustodial parent meets certain requirements. For example, the noncustodial parent may need to have six months of clean drug tests, seek counseling, or complete an anger management class in order to be awarded unsupervised visits.

How supervised visitation works

If the judge decides that supervised visitation is best for your child, the court order will specify how the supervised visits will work.

The judge may order the supervised visits to take place in a designated facility. There will be a monitor present with the noncustodial parent in the room for the duration of the visits.

The judge may assign a social worker or a similar person to accompany the child to the noncustodial parent's home (or other designated location). The designated monitor will stay with the child for the entire visit and return the child to the custodial parent.

The judge may allow a friend, relative, or an acquaintance to act as the monitor for supervised visits if the participant is willing and the parents are able to mutual agree on a person. If this is an option for you, you will need to consider whether or not the person will be reliable and trustworthy. 

Putting supervised visitation in your parenting plan

When you write supervised visits into your parenting plan, use airtight language that leaves no room for interpretation. Be as specific as possible.

If you hire a lawyer, he or she can develop wording the judge will accept.

If you're writing your own plan, use technology to take the guesswork out of the equation. The Custody X Change app can insert provisions about supervised visitation for you.

In your account, click the "parenting plan" tab. Then, click the "supervised visitation" category and select the provisions that work you.

Just like that, your plan has supervised visitation requirements that can be legally enforced once a judge signs your plan into a court order.

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