Traditional visitation is not always appropriate for all families. When traditional visitation is not in the best interests of the child, the court may order supervised visitation.
There are a variety of circumstances in which supervised visitation might be appropriate.
When might a judge order supervised visitation?
One situation in which supervised visitation might be appropriate is if the parent has been estranged from the child for many years. It could be traumatic for both the parent and the child to suddenly be thrust into a caretaker parent-child relationship. They need some time to get to know and trust each other under the supervision of a third party.
A second situation in which supervised visitation might be appropriate is if domestic violence is an issue. It is not in the child’s best interests to be put in the care of a parent who might jeopardize the child’s safety and well-being. Visitation supervised by a third party can help ensure that the parent and child have a chance to develop a healthy relationship.
A third situation in which supervised visitation might be appropriate is if the parent abuses drugs or alcohol or has serious mental health issues. Parents with these disorders might not have the capacity to safely care for the child. Supervised visitation allows these parents to continue having a relationship with the child without exposing the child to dangerous substances or neglect.
Who can supervise the visitation?
The third-party supervising the visitation is referred to as the provider. They are a neutral person who will watch over the visit. Their role is to ensure the child is kept safe during the visitation periods. They must listen to what the parent tells the child, observe how the child behaves, end the visit if necessary and report any possible abuse that may occur.
Some providers are professionals who have special training in supervised visitation and are mandated reporters.
Some providers are nonprofessionals, such as friends or relatives. It the child would be safe with a nonprofessional provider for this type of visitation to be appropriate.
Supervised visitation is sometimes temporary. It will continue if it is in the child’s best interests. This time period will be different for each family, depending on the unique relationship between the parent and the child.