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Why Courts Order Supervised Parenting and How It Works

Why Courts Order Supervised Parenting and How It Works

Even though only about 10% of child abuse allegations are substantiated, courts will perceive that there is a risk to the children in a number of circumstances. When this happens, they may order supervised visits. Here is what you need to know about supervised parenting.

It May Be the Only Way to See the Children

For some parents, supervised visitation is the only way that they can spend time with their children. While it is clearly not ideal for them, it is the best that they can see their children until there is no longer the need for supervised time. However, this arrangement exists for the protection of the child because the court feels that there is the need to ensure their safety. Nonetheless, it is also in the child’s best interest to maintain a relationship with the parent.

Judges order supervised visitation to protect the child. There are a number of ways that this situation can come to the court’s attention. Most often, one parent raises fears about the child’s safety with the other parent and asks for the arrangement. In other instances, one parent could get in legal trouble, and the matter ends up in criminal court with. Then, the case could also end up in front of the family law judge through a referral or after a criminal matter. The judge will then consider when this level of monitoring is required.

Supervision May Have a Stifling Effect on the Relationship

In a perfect situation, this would never be necessary. Having someone else present for a visit may affect the parent’s relationship with the child. Without being able to be alone with the child, the parent may feel awkward or uncomfortable. Parents may feel stifled when someone else can hear everything that they are saying to their child.

If you are the parent asking for supervised visitation, you should fully consider how this could affect the child in the long run. Of course, there are situations that may demand this type of arrangement as a protection for the children’s safety.

When Courts May Order Supervised Parenting

Here are some of the circumstances that may call for supervised visitation:

  • A parent has a substance abuse problem.
  • A parent has abused the child.
  • One parent has committed domestic violence against the other.
  • There is a chance that a parent may attempt to abduct the child.
  • The parent is just returning to the child’s life after a long absence and is trying to establish a relationship.
  • The parent has a history of neglect or is otherwise unfit to be a parent.
  • A parent is mentally unstable.

Really, supervised parenting may be ordered in an instance where the judge thinks that the situation is unstable and the children are in any danger of being harmed. Even though supervision may be awkward, judges may err on the side of caution instead of potentially putting the children in a dangerous situation. Family court is often the last line of defense for kids in a vulnerable domestic situation.

Here Is How Supervised Parenting Works

If you are wondering how supervised visitation works, the short answer is that it is entirely up to the court. The judge has the discretion to decide exactly what protections are necessary and the level of supervision required. There are many things that can vary between arrangements. Here are some of the things that the court can decide:

  • Where the supervised visits will happen
  • Who accompanies the child during the visit
  • How long the visit is for
  • How much of the visit must be supervised
  • Whether the person supervising is a family member or someone appointed by the court
  • How long the supervised visitation requirements last for
  • Where will the supervised visit occur?

This Is Usually a Temporary Solution

Ideally, supervised parenting time is not the permanent solution for a custody matter. The idea is for the parent to keep spending time with the child while they work toward a situation where they can spend time together alone. This is especially the case when there has been substance abuse. Ideally, the parent will eventually recover from their substance abuse, and the need for the child’s protection will lessen. For now, the parent can maintain their relationship with their child while they get their life back together.

After some time has passed and the parent can show the court that they have made progress, their family law attorney can petition the court to remove the requirement for supervised visits. However, in situations where there has been abuse, it will, of course, be more difficult to remove the requirement. Courts will err on the side of caution when it comes to protecting the minor because it is the best interests of the child that are the most important.

Nonetheless, parents can take heart that this arrangement is usually temporary. Eventually, if the parent continues to make progress and can show the court that the restrictions are no longer necessary, the conditions will be gradually lessened. Parents subject to supervised visitation should remain persistent and continue to do everything they can, both with regard to their children and improving their own life. Hard works means that things will continue to get better.

You Need a Family Law Attorney If Supervised Parenting Is Considered

Both parents will need a family lawyer when supervised parenting is being discussed. The parent whose visits may be monitored may need a divorce lawyer to advocate to  the judge why supervision is not necessary. In the event that the judge has made up their mind, their interest would be that the court impose less-stringent monitoring. Their best hope is that at least some of the visit could consist of alone time with the child. However, the safety of the child remains paramount.

The other parent would need a divorce attorney to ensure that there is very tight language in the parenting plan that lays out the exact terms of the supervision in a way that protects the children. This will mean very specific wording. A family law attorney could draft the language or review what the other side proposes.

Parents Can Agree to This on Their Own

Some parents may end up agreeing to a supervised visitation plan without a judge’s order. While this becomes part of the court order, the parents can always place a limit on the duration of the supervision or agree to change visits to unsupervised in the future. In a way, if one parent is facing possible supervision, they are at least better off trying to agree to terms with the other parent instead of having a judge decide the matter. Their divorce lawyer could help them try to negotiate the least restrictive agreement possible while keeping the bast interests of the child a priority.

For help with supervised visitation and other child custody matters, contact Jeralyn Lawrence at the New Jersey divorce law firm of Lawrence Law at (908) 645-1000 to schedule your initial consultation. Our divorce attorneys are experienced with all types of custody matters and can help you come up with commonsense solutions to your issues.

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