What Is Supervised Visitation & When Is It Necessary?

How Does Supervised Visitation Work in California?

Supervised visitation is when a judge requires that a third party be present when a parent has visitation with their child. This is done by court order and requires that the only time the parent can have contact with their child is when the third party is present. Supervised visitation is ordered when the courts determine that it is in the best interest of the child and necessary to ensure their safety and well-being.

A common related concern is who will be supervising during supervised visitation, especially in high conflict situations or in cases where there have been instances of domestic violence or abuse between the parents.

According to the California courts, the third-party individual who attends supervised visitation with the parent and child is referred to as the "supervised visitation provider." They can be a family member, friend, or paid professional. Typically, when the provider is a nonprofessional (family member or friend), they are not paid for their services. Professional providers charge a fee.

Families do not always have a choice over which type of provider they can use for supervised visitation. Often, the courts will specify in the court order which type of provider must be used. However, all providers must meet minimum qualifications and training requirements regardless of whether they are a professional or nonprofessional.

The role of the supervised visitation provider is to:

  • Be present for all visits
  • Be present for the full duration of all visits
  • Pay attention to the child and parent's behavior during the visit
  • Listen to what is being said

The supervised visitation provider may also interrupt or end a visit if necessary. Furthermore, the provider is required to report any instances of child abuse, including suspected child abuse.

What Situations Might Result in Supervised Visitation?

While supervised visitation is often required in situations where there has been abuse or domestic violence, there are other circumstances in which supervised visitation is in the best interest of both the child and the parent.

Supervised visitation may be mandated for several reasons, including:

  • Reintroducing a parent and child after a long time apart
  • To introduce a parent to a child where there was previously no relationship between them
  • In cases where there is a history of domestic violence, abuse, or neglect
  • In situations where there is a history of substance abuse
  • When a parent is dealing with a mental illness
  • When there are concerns about parental abduction of the child

The courts take supervised visitation very seriously. You cannot simply request supervised visitation because you do not like your child's other parent. For the courts to consider supervised visitation, there must be a legitimate reason why it is in the best interests of the child, such as when being alone with their other parent poses a danger to the child's safety or well-being

What To Do If You Are Only Allowed Supervised Visitation with Your Children

When the courts order supervised visitation, you must adhere to the court order, even if you disagree with it or think it is unfair. Make sure to read through the court order and ensure that you understand what is required of you. You should also make sure that you attend all scheduled visits and show up on time.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to request a modification to the court order and have it changed from supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation. You should work with an attorney during this process to help increase your chances of a positive resolution.

If you are dealing with a difficult custody situation involving supervised visitation, reach out to Burch Shepard Family Law Group. We understand how challenging these situations can be, and our compassionate attorneys have extensive experience helping families deal with them. Send us a message online to schedule an appointment.