Divorce Involving Supervised Child Visitation
There are almost always painful aspects of a divorce. Often among the most painful and difficult challenges of a divorce is when children are involved, and child custody and visitation issues must be resolved. This can be especially hard when the court determines that visitation must be supervised. Supervised visitation for non-custodial parents can take many forms. When there are any safety and welfare issues of the child, a Los Angeles family law court could decide to order supervised visitations to a non-custodial parent. This is especially true if a parent has a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse. If the judge determines a child’s safety and well-being is affected by a non-custodial parent, they will typically order supervised visits, which provide the non-custodial parent an opportunity to stay in contact with their children, while keeping children in a safe environment. If you are facing supervised visitation, the exact form it takes will be influenced by many different factors. How do supervised child visits work? In order for a parent to have their child visits supervised, they must report to a designated visitation person or location. It’s common for parents to arrange for a family member to be present during non-custodial parent’s visits. In some cases in Los Angeles County, the judge could also specify exactly who is to supervise the visitation, such as a social worker or counselor. The judge has the discretion to order temporary or long-term supervised visits. If there have been past issues with the parents involving retraining orders or child abuse in domestic violence incidents, the judge might even order the non-custodial parent to take anger management classes before they will be allowed unsupervised visits with their children. Supervised visitations with the children take place in the presence of the custodial parent, a neutral third-party, professional staff, or with a mental health professional. Every case of supervised child visitation is unique and there are a wide range of factors that are considered by the court. If you are a mother who has experienced abuse and interested in information about supervised visitation, contact the Los Angeles family law attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky LLP. Our law firm can assist you with child custody orders. We also recommend you read the information in this Supervised Visitation Programs handbook.
California’s Best Interest of Children Policy
The state of California’s official policy on custody and visitation matters takes into account “the best interest of the children.” In a divorce that involves determining child custody and visitation rights, the judge must consider many factors that bear on the best interests of the child or children. That consideration can lead a judge to order supervised visitation. Essentially, this requires that the non-custodial parent can have contact with their child if a neutral third person – not the custodial parent – supervises the visit. Most frequently, such a decision is based on safety concerns and is intended to protect the child. However, there are a number of other factors the judge might consider before making this decision. These can include:
- Whether the visiting parent needs a chance to address specific issues, which can include a host of things, from something as basic as adequate housing to mental health treatment
- Whether an adjustment period is needed to reintroduce a parent and a child following a long separation or, more seriously, to allow time to introduce a visiting parent and a child where there has never been a relationship between them
- Safety issues where there are past allegations or a documented history of domestic violence, child abuse, child neglect, or substance abuse
- Whether there is a history of poor parenting or mental illness, or
- If there has been a threat, stated or otherwise, of child abduction by the visiting parent.
The court will issue an order that sets out the time, days and length of the visits. The order also can indicate who will supervise the visits and where those visits will take place. The order also will allocate the costs of the supervised visitation. The costs might not be allocated equally and are likely to fall most heavily, or even completely, on the visiting parent. The parents have input and can request changes from the court, but the court always will consider the best interest of the child first. Later deviations from the schedule set by the court order, even one-time events, must be approved by the court in advance. Such changes are routinely granted if both parents agree. If not, one parent can petition the court for changes and the judge will decide, based on the best interests of the child. If you need more information, call a Los Angeles child custody lawyer at our law firm.
There are Options for the Form of Supervised Visitation
As long as the judge believes a particular form of supervised visits suits the best interest of the child, the judge has some flexibility in what sort of supervised visits to order. The form of supervision is intended to provide the most benefit to the child, including time spent with the non-custodial parent, but also protecting the child from physical or mental abuse. The supervised visitation can take several forms.
The most common of supervised visitations is the one-on-one visit. In such visits, the child and the visiting parent meet alone and are closely supervised by a third-party monitor. The monitor can be a family member or friend, known as a non-professional monitor. They do not charge a fee to provide the monitoring service. In some cases, the judge provided may determine that the situation requires a professional monitor. These charge a fee but meet more stringent training requirements.
It also is possible the judge will order group supervision, in which two or more parent-children groups meet in the same place with one or more monitors. Once again, the form is determined by what the judge believes to be the best interests of the child.
Another possibility is telephonic or video conferencing. The monitor participates in a phone conference or video conference involving the parent and child. In the past, telephone and tele-video conferences were most common, but Skype and other Internet-based video applications have broadened options and reduced costs. Remote visitation of this type generally is considered an option when the non-custodial parent lives far away or travels extensively, usually for work, or if the non-custodial parent is in prison or a residential drug rehabilitation facility. See related: How to Get More Visitation Time with Your Child.
Contact a Supervised Child Visitation Attorney at Furman & Zatavsky
If you are going through a divorce or have recently been divorced in the Los Angeles area and have children, you are or soon will be subject to a custody and visitation order. It is possible that may result in supervised visitation of your children, either for you or your spouse. Such orders can have severe consequences, and it is important that you understand the implications and your options on how to deal with such an order. It’s important to understand the difference between physical and legal child custody in California. Contact the attorneys of Furman & Zatavsky LLP at (818) 528-3471 or through our online contact form. We can help.