What Is Supervised Child Visitation?

There are many different arrangements that are possible in a divorce case involving shared children. A judge will take the time to carefully analyze the situation, interview all parties involved, request professional opinions from experts and possibly talk to the child to make a child custody or visitation decision. The order given by the judge will ultimately be based on what is in the child’s best interests. If a judge in San Diego orders supervised child visitation, find out what this means for you and your family.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

Supervised visitation means that a judge is requiring the parent or relative who has received visitation privileges to use a third-party supervisor at these visits. The supervisor could be the other parent, a different adult or someone used by a professional agency, such as a child welfare office. With a supervised child visitation order, it is a violation of the law for the parent or relative to visit a child without a supervisor present.

Supervised visitation typically adheres to a specific schedule, either created by the parents and signed off on by a judge or created by the judge. The parent, child and chosen supervisor will meet in an agreed-upon location at a specific time and date, for a predetermined amount of time. Supervised child visitation is a strict type of agreement that typically does not allow any of the involved parties to make changes to the schedule except for approved or necessary reasons. If you wish to change your visitation schedule, you will need to work with a San Diego child visitation lawyer to file the paperwork needed to change the agreement.

Why Might a Parent or Family Member Receive Supervised Visitation?

There are several reasons why a judge in California might believe that supervised child visitation is what is best for a child’s safety and wellbeing. Some of these reasons have to do with a perceived risk that the parent may present to the child. For example, if a divorce case involves domestic violence, parental abduction, drug or alcohol abuse, violent crimes committed by one parent, or concerns regarding a mental illness, a judge may order visits with the child to be supervised – if the parent receives visitation rights at all.

Supervised child visitation may also be ordered by a judge in a divorce or separation case when the judge believes that both parties need more time to become acquainted with each other. This could be a possibility in a case where the child has not seen the parent for a long time due to abandonment, hidden paternity, military duty or jail time. In this scenario, a judge may use supervised visitation to make sure that the child is safe and comfortable while getting to know the parent or person slowly over time.

Can Supervised Visitation Become Permanent?

A supervisor who is present during supervised visitation has multiple roles. One is to make sure that the child is safe and protected during the visit with the parent or relative. Another is to take notes to monitor the visitations for a span of a few months or longer. A judge will review the notes and may make changes to the visitation arrangement, as needed and appropriate. While it is possible for supervised child visitation to last for several months or even years, the goal is generally to work up to reasonable (unsupervised) visitation or shared custody.

If the parent or family member can prove that he or she does not present a danger to the child’s physical, emotional or psychological wellbeing by following the rules of supervised visitation for a period of time, the parent may eventually graduate to a different, less rigid, custody or visitation arrangement. The situation must be carefully reviewed by a judge and other professionals, including Child Protective Services, to make sure that the child and everyone involved are safe and protected.

If you wish to have a judge review or modify a supervised child visitation arrangement in California – as either parent – you may file paperwork to officially ask the judge to reevaluate the situation. You may need a lawyer’s assistance with this legal process. For more information about the different types of child visitation and custody arrangements that are possible during a divorce case in California, contact a family attorney in San Diego today.