The standard applied for all child custody matters is the “best interests of the child.” When parents are divorced or involved in a legal separation or paternity case, courts will presume that the best situation for a child emotionally is a situation in which both parents are involved in a child’s upbringing. Unfortunately, however, there are situations in which a parent may only be granted the right to supervised visitation. If you would like information or advice regarding supervised visitation, one of the San Diego child visitation lawyers at Doppelt & Forney can help. We offer legal advice and representation to clients in the San Diego area on all family law matters, including child custody and supervised visitation.What is Supervised Visitation?
Supervised visitation is precisely what it says: the right of one parent to visit his or her child, but only under the supervision of a third party (who is not normally the other parent), while the other parent retains sole custody rights. Orders of supervised visitation are not uncommon in cases involving:
- Domestic abuse;
- Child neglect;
- Current or past drug or alcohol abuse by a parent;
- Acquainting or reacquainting a parent and child in cases in which there has been no relationship between them, or in which there has been a long absence (e.g., after a period of incarceration or military service);
- The mental illness of a parent or concerns that a parent may have a mental illness;
- Situations in which the court feels that there is a threat of child abduction by a parent; or
- Other appropriate situations.
A supervised visitation order will specify the dates, times, and durations of the visits. It may also specify who will provide the supervision services and the location of the visitations.Coping with a Supervised Visitation Situation
Being subject to an order of supervised visitation can be disconcerting for a parent, particularly if it results from a divorce prior to which the parent had unfettered access to his or her children in the family home. And while that parent may be resentful, or feel that the restrictions are unfair or unreasonable, it is critical to put those feelings aside in order to focus on fostering a positive relationship with the child.
Accordingly, the parent must carefully read and observe all of the terms of the visitation order, since a violation risks the possibility of visitations being suspended or cancelled. It is important not to let the stress or discomfort of the situation affect the quality and nature of the visits themselves.
Compliance with the terms includes being prompt regarding arrival and departure. If there must be changes made as to time or place, it is best to do so as far in advance as possible with both the agency providing the supervision and the other parent. Acting conscientiously and responsibly and building a positive relationship with the child while under supervision may not only make it possible to gain greater rights such as joint custody at some later date but also will allow the parent-child relationship to mature into a strong relationship beyond the time when neither party is bound by the terms of the visitation order.
For the custodial parent, the visitation order can also be stressful, and it may be difficult to let go of concerns about the child’s well-being, despite the supervision aspect, particularly if the case involves an abusive parent. But it is also critical to understand and comply with the order. The custodial parent bears the principal responsibility for the child’s well-being, and it is important for that parent not to let his or her own worry or stress about the other parent or about the visits affect the child’s perspective.
Visitation orders are legally enforceable by both parties. Consequently, any action by the parents that places unnecessary stress or emotional burdens on the child with respect to the visits will undermine the child’s overall well-being. Both parents must keep this in mind and be supportive of the child at all times.Contact a San Diego Attorney Regarding a Supervised Visitation Order
For information about supervised visitation orders, contact one of the family lawyers at Doppelt & Forney at 800.769.4748, or contact us online. We represent people throughout the San Diego area and surrounding communities, including Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, La Jolla, Point Loma, Coronado, Del Mar, and La Mesa.