By Sara Pitcher
Supervised parenting time may occur in a case if the judge has concerns for the safety or well being of the child.
A judge may determine that supervised parenting time is appropriate for a number of different reasons.
Supervised parenting time may be ordered if there are allegations of, or concerns of, physical violence toward the child or in the presence of the child.
Another reason supervised parenting time may be ordered is if there are concerns that the parent cannot properly care for the child on his or her own or if there are allegations or concerns that the parent is interfering with the relationship of the child with the other parent.
This interference may be caused by negative or condescending comments about the other parent to, or in the presence of, the child.
To prevent this from occurring, the court may order supervised parenting time until the parent shows over a course of time that the concerns are no longer present.
How Long Does Supervised Parenting Time Last?
If supervised parenting time is ordered, it is rarely permanent. Typically, supervised parenting time is ordered for a temporary amount of time until the judge feels the non-custodial parent has shown they can visit with the children without the concern for physical or mental harm to the children.
If after a period of time the judge determines that the parent is unable to have parenting time without causing physical or emotional harm to the children, then the judge may order no parenting time as the primary concern of the court is the best interests of the child.
The court will not usually award permanent supervised parenting time because if the parent has shown they are not improving or creating a safe visit, then it is likely not in the best interest of the child to continue to be around the parent and the dangerous situation.
Who Supervises The Parenting Time?
The court may order a neutral third party to supervise parenting time and many counties have a company or service who will supervise the parenting time for a fee.
This may be the best situation for the child if the parents have difficulty being around each other for exchanges and there is not a suitable family member or friend that the court feels comfortable ordering or that the parties can agree upon.
If there is a family member of friend that the court feels may be responsible for supervising the parenting time and the person is agreeable to accepting the appointment as the supervisor, then such a person may be named the supervisor as this often creates a more natural environment for the parent and the child to enjoy time together.
The parenting time supervisor is responsible for being present during the entirety of the parenting time to ensure the mental and physical safety of the child. If the supervisor at any time feels that the safety of the child is threatened in any way or the communication to the child or in the child’s presence is harmful to the child, then the supervisor has the obligation to put an end to the parenting time.
The supervisor may also be asked to report to the court regarding how the parenting time went and the safety and well being of the child during the parenting time. Because of the responsibility placed on the supervisor and the potentially difficult task of ending parenting time and issuing a report to the court, the court will not likely order an unwilling individual to serve as a parenting time supervisor.
If the parenting time supervisor must leave during the scheduled parenting time, then the parenting time must end as the parent and child are typically not permitted to be left alone together.
Reaching Unsupervised Parenting Time
Often the court will order supervised parenting time for a specified amount of time and then there will be a hearing to determine whether progress is being made and the concerns which originally warranted supervised parenting time have subsided. If the concerns have been eased, then the court will typically phase in unsupervised parenting time for gradually longer periods of time.
It may be possible for a parent who was originally ordered to have supervised parenting time to work up to unsupervised parenting time that may even include overnights if the court feels that it would be in the best interests of the child and there are no longer concerns for the safety or well being of the child in the care of the parent.
If you have questions about supervised parenting time, wish to request supervised parenting time, or are involved in a case involving supervised parenting time, you should contact a domestic litigation attorney who focuses primarily on the area of family law, such as the attorneys at Cordell & Cordell.