Child Custody: Supervised Visitation

Are you dealing with a domestic violence case where children are involved? Whether the children are the victims of the abuse (child abuse), or if they have been witnessing a parent being abused, or both, the court may decide to order “supervised visitation.”

In California, the family courts operate on the presumption that they are to protect the best interests of children whose parents have a pending child custody or visitation matter that’s been filed with the court.

Child custody or visitation matters are frequently brought to the court during a legal separation, divorce, or domestic violence case. If the court determines that the children are unsafe, the judge may decide that supervised visitation with one of the parents is in the children’s best interests.

When a judge orders supervised visitation, this means that the child can only see a parent if there is a neutral third party present during the visits. This “neutral third person” can be a family member, such as the child’s aunt or uncle or a grandparent, it could be a friend or a paid professional.

The neutral third person must be present for all of the supervised visits, and it is their job to ensure that the child is kept safe and that they are protected. The third person cannot leave the area, they must remain continuously present during the visit, listen to the conversation and pay close attention to the child’s behavior. They must be able to read the child’s signals and respond accordingly.

If the necessary, the provider must be prepared to interrupt or end the visit. Additionally, all neutral third parties are required to report suspected child abuse.

There are two types of providers: nonprofessional providers (family or friends) and professional providers. Friends and family are not paid for their supervised visitation, whereas professional providers do charge a fee. These individuals are trained and experienced at what they do.

Reasons for Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation is not limited to child abuse cases. A judge may order supervised visits for other reasons, including: 1) introducing a child to a parent after they haven’t seen each other in a long time, 2) introducing a child to a parent they’ve never met, 3) when there is a history of substance abuse or neglect, 4) when there are parenting concerns, and 5) when there is a threat that the parent may abduct the child.

For more information about supervised visitation, contact our Los Angeles family law firm to schedule a free case evaluation!