The divorce rate in the U.S. has dropped from 50% in the 1980s to 39% as of 2018. That’s quite an impressive improvement of 11%!
Still, the current divorce rate means that one in every three married couples will split. This is one of the main reasons we have almost 20 million kids in the country living with a single parent. Of that number, 16.4 million children live with a single mom, the rest being with the dad.
In some of these single-parent households, the other parent has no custody of the child. They do, however, have supervised visitation rights.
What exactly do supervised visits mean? Who does this law apply to and why do the courts grant it to some parents?
We’ll address all these questions and more in this post so keep reading!
The Lowdown on Supervised Visitation
Supervised visitation is when a parent can only visit their child in another person’s presence. This other person can be another family member of the custodial parent. In many other cases, courts assign social workers as supervised visitation providers.
Where the visitation occurs depends on the judge. This can be at the non-custodial parent’s own home, or in designated visitation centers.
Either way, the judge is often the one that determines who gets to supervise the visits and parenting time.
When and Why Family Court Judges Order Supervised Parenting Time
Domestic violence is a crime under the U.S. law, but 10 million people in the country still fall victim to it every year. These include victims of intimate partner, elder, and of course, child abuse.
When judges decide on parental rights, they look at the parents’ history of domestic abuse. If there is, they’re likely to only allow supervised visits from the parent with a “history”.
Family courts also look at each parent’s history of alcohol or substance abuse. This can also be a ground for them to order supervised parenting time and visits.
As you can see, most orders of this kind have a lot to do with how safe a child can be when left alone with a parent. The court may consider it unsafe for a child if the parent has a history of child abuse. The judge may also not find it safe for a child to spend time alone with a parent who has a history of drug abuse.
These aren’t the only cases when family courts order supervised visits though. What’s most important to them is to ensure the safety of the child.
As such, they carefully determine if the child needs protection during visits. Only then will they grant supervised parental rights.
Note that judges can also order child support enforcement along with supervised visits. You can learn and discover more here about how child support works.
Length of Time Supervised Visits are In Effect
Supervised visits are not permanent, and in many instances, the court orders it only for a set amount of time. After this, the court will review the case again to see if it’s necessary to extend the monitored visits.
Family judges will consider positive changes to the non-custodial parent’s behaviors. These changes may show the visiting parent’s ability to look after their child on their own.
Let’s say that a parent with a substance abuse history completed rehabilitation programs. They’ve also been off the substance and show no signs of relapsing. The parent may have also gained steady employment.
The judge may use these as grounds for reversing the supervised parenting orders. They will still only have visitation rights but without a child visitation monitor.
The Benefits of Supervised Parenting and Visitation Time
The main goal of monitored visits and exchanges are to keep children safe and protected. Most judges consider these best for children in high-conflict households. They are also in the best interest of children with a parent who may have behavioral issues.
Courts do realize that kids often benefit more when they have contact with both parents. For instance, studies found kids who rarely see their other parent feel more stressed. Other studies also found that kids who live with a parent with sole custody can develop psychological issues.
This is why judges still allow visits for a non-custodial parent, albeit supervised. While the children benefit the most, monitored visitation also benefits both parents.
For the Custodial Parents
For custodial parents, peace of mind is the biggest benefit of supervised visits. They can be at ease knowing that someone they can trust is looking after their child with the other parent.
They can rest assured knowing someone capable is there to protect their child. This is especially true in case a conflict with the visiting parent occurs.
For the Non-Custodial or Visiting Parent
Supervised visitation rights are a lot better than having no visiting rights at all. For many parents, especially those trying to correct their mistakes, this is a great deal.
As they “make it up” to their children, these parents can also show the judge that they have changed for the better. It could be hard to prove this to their former spouse, but not to a neutral party. That’s why a child visitation monitor can be a great asset to them.
With someone being present during their visits, no one can accuse them of “bad” behavior. Visiting parents can spend quality time with their child without fears. They don’t have to worry about the other parent making new “allegations” against them.
Consulting a Legal Expert before Making any Parental Decision
Although supervised visitation is ideal for some parents, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are cases wherein both parents are fit for custody, but one party claims otherwise. It can also be that one parent meets factors for supervised visits but still contests it.
It’s because of these conflicts that hiring a family law attorney can be the best approach. They can help settle conflicts between parents so as not to drag the kids in these situations. And if needed, prove a parent’s rights to monitored visits, or joint or full custody.
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