What You Need to Know About Supervised Visitation

When and Why Supervised Visitation is Odered

Supervised visitation after divorce
Solstock/Creative Rf/Getty Images

Question About Supervised Visitation

My ex-wife has accused me of neglect and abuse and is asking the courts that I only have supervised visitation with our son. Can she do this and if she is successful what happens during supervised visitation?

Answer

It is possible the court will order supervised child visitation if your ex-wife has evidence proving you are in some way a danger to your child's physical or emotional health.

Normally this occurs when a parent has a history of being physically abusive or neglectful of the child’s needs. Alcohol and drug addiction can play a role in supervised child visitation being ordered.

She can petition the court and request supervised visitation, but it falls on her to prove that you are a danger to your child. You have a right to a court hearing in which she will present any evidence she has and you, in turn, will be given the opportunity to defend yourself against her accusations. 

If your ex is successful, visitation between you and your child will be in the presence of a third party. The job of the third party is to ensure the safety of your child during the visitation and to promote an ongoing relationship between you and your child. In some cases, the third party is a member of the family or a friend.

Reasons Supervised Visitation Is Ordered

  • Proof of physical abuse.
  • Fear of possible parental abduction.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse.
  • A diagnosis of mental illness.
  • Past inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Proof of emotional abuse.
  • The child's wishes. If the child is of a certain age, that child can request supervised visitation if they feel unsafe. 
  • Incarceration of the non-custodial parent. 
  • In some cases, the courts will take into consideration the kind of environment the child is in when visiting the non-custodial parent. And, the character of people the child is exposed to during visitation. 

    Who is in charge of supervising child visitation depends on the severity of the accusations your ex makes to the courts and the evidence she is able to provide to prove those accusations.

    If she can prove that you have physically abused the child, the court will appoint a professional to supervise visitation. Usually someone from social services or an independent agency that specializes in supervised visitation.

    4 Ways Supervised Visitation Can Be Handled

    • Visitation may take place in the presence of the custodial parent.
    • In the presence of a third party such as a friend or, relative. 
    • At a location where the visitation is monitored by a professional
    • Many areas have organizations that offer specific services needed during supervised visitation.
    • If your child is in therapy, the therapist can be present during supervised visitation.  

    Normally social services and independent agencies become involved when there has been a history of abuse in the marriage and since. If you’ve never been found guilty of domestic abuse or abuse against your child you will more than likely end up with visits supervised by a family member or friend. One who, of course, meets the court’s standards.

    How to Avoid Supervised Visitation

    Putting your children first in everything choice you make, before, during and after divorce is the best way to avoid an order for supervised visitation.

    Below are a few suggestions.

    • Don't abuse alcohol or drugs.
    • Don't neglect your children's needs when they are in your custody. If your child is sick, make sure they see a doctor. Always clothe and properly feed your child. 
    • Don't threaten or physically abuse your child.
    • Don't engage in conflict or dangerous behaviors in front of your child. 
    • Stay on the right side of the law, avoid incarceration. 
    • If you suffer from depression or another mental health issue make sure to monitor your health with a therapist and take medications as prescribed.
    • Do not behave in a sexual manner in front of your child.
    • Do not leave your younger child alone when in your custody.
    • Do not make the mistake of believing you can mistreat or ignore your child and they will continue to want a relationship with you. 

    If you find yourself under the order of supervised visitation, don't lose hope of ever having free time with your child again.

    Speak to your attorney about what steps to take in terms of lifting the order and what actions you need to take to ensure that can be done. Your behavior during the supervised visitations will also play a role in how long you remain under the order.