What if I need to seek Supervised Visitation? How do I know if Supervised Visitation is Necessary?
Supervised visitation in family law cases, including child custody cases, paternity cases, child custody modification cases and divorce cases are often the most difficult and complex cases to address in the family court process. They are often filled with big emotions and each parent feels committed to their respective position. For example, if you believe your child is in danger, you are unlikely to compromise on no longer seeking supervised or restricted visitation and thus, will probably be unlikely to settle through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution. Similarly, if a parent feels that they are being falsely accused of allegations, often times he or she is going to be unwilling to resolve or settle the case agreeing to long-term supervised visitation.
Having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to guide you through issues of seeking supervised visitation or fighting against supervised visitation being ordered for you is crucial to the well-being and future of your family. Reach out to us at Pingel Family Law to let our knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys give you invaluable advice during this crucial period for your family.
Why would supervised visits be necessary?
A court has the authority to order supervised visitation on either a temporary or more permanent time period. The most common grounds for supervised visitation are based on the parent having a substance abuse addiction such as drugs or alcohol, domestic violence issues, anger control issues, sexual improprieties (either towards your children, other children or even in certain circumstances towards adults), physical or emotional abuse, neglect or a variety of other issues. It is rare if not impossible, to get a court to terminate or stop all visitation or contact between a child and a parent. Generally courts believe that children need contact with each parent in whatever safe way allows for the contact. Often children will wand and request time with each parent as they don’t understand the harm or negative actions engaged in by the other parent. Supervised visitation is intended to ensure that the child has the opportunity to see both parents, but also ensures the safety and protection of the child. For the parent being supervised, especially if the parent feels falsely or incorrectly accused of wrong-doing, the supervision requirement can be devastating to the parent and feels as though their relationship with their child is being reduced or minimized. Many parents that are ordered to undergo supervised parenting time also feel unfairly judged, criticized and humiliated.
What language is required for a parenting plan to Order supervised visitation?
In Missouri the court is required to make specific findings for the reasons the parenting time is being restricted. In Kansas less specificity is required by statute, but often the court will make findings or other summaries that explain the court’s decision or motivation for the court’s order of supervised visitation.
Beyond the decision of supervision, it is common for court orders to include the parameters and times/days for supervision and any specific rules for supervision such as persons who can be attendance, locations where supervised visits can or cannot take place and other similar rules for the visits. Generally, the court will also designate how the visits will be supervised when they need to be supervised. Often this may include permission for a trusted family member to perform the supervision or the court may direct that a paid/private duty supervisor needs to be designated to perform these functions. When paid supervised visits are required, many courts will also include an explanation or order about how the cost of the visits will be paid or shared by the parents.
Do We Have to Use a Paid or Professional Supervisor?
In short answer, no, you do not. As a practical matter, if you have a trusted person available to provide supervised visitation services, the court would prefer that your family have a known or trusted person to conduct these visits. Often, this includes grandparents, an aunt or uncle or a trusted mutual friend. Of course, it is important that both parents feel trust and confidence with the person conducting the supervised visits. Often if one parent is worried about a family member serving as the visitation supervisor, having a joint meeting or communication with the lawyers can help build confidence the that the visitation supervisor understands his or her role and responsibilities. When a friend or family member is trusted to provide supervised visitation, it is important that the supervisor is confident in his or her ability to assert guidance or even directives over the parent if anything concerning occurs during the supervised visits.
Often both parents, the court or the guardian ad litem will develop a list of rules or expectations for the supervised visits so that everyone is on the same page and understands what is and is not permitted during the supervised visits. The most important component of the visits is that they are protective of the child or children involved, they are centered on the needs and best interest of the children and allow the child to have meaningful interactions with the other parent.
If a neutral party cannot be located or agreed upon by the parties, often a visitation organization or other private duty visitation supervisor will be engaged to oversee the parent’s visits. You should work with your child custody lawyer to determine what resources are available to meet your family’s needs in this regard.
What are the General Ground Rules for Supervised Visitation?
Of course, every family’s needs are unique and if there are specific concerns in your family’s circumstances, often rules or guidance around the individualized issues will be developed. Generally, all supervised visitation involves the supervisor keeping your child and the parent in visual and hearing distance at all times. This also usually includes protocols for the child or parent using the restroom and other unique kinds of circumstances that will develop from time to time.
What Happens if Problems Arise During Supervised Visitation?
Most often, when problems arise with supervised visits, they are the result of either the supervisor not enforcing the rules or the parent being supervised not complying with the rules. If you are having such an issue, often it is crucial that you work with your experienced family law attorney to help you advocate and work through these issues. It may be as simple as the supervisor does not fully understand or explain the rules or it may be more complicated such as the supervisor being unwilling to comply or not understanding the importance of their role and compliance. These are often complex issues that may require meetings, conferences and sometimes, even involvement of the court through filing motions. If the parent being supervised has repeated instances of not following the rules, often the supervisor will need to write up a summary of the issues, and the court may need to put additional rules or regulations in place or even determine that supervised visitation needs to be stopped until the parent can better comply in the future.
When do supervised visits end?
In some cases or circumstances, supervised visits will conclude after a set period of time either agreed upon by the parties or determined by the court. In other circumstances, a professional will be involved in giving recommendations about when supervised visits can conclude. In many other cases, the supervised visits are ongoing until the parent being supervised elects to return to court and file a motion to terminate or conclude the supervised visitation. Often, when a parent elects to return to court, he or she will try to show the court proof of rehabilitation or treatment (meaning, what the parent has fixed or improved that makes him or her fit to care for the children without supervision going forward).
Sometimes, there is a necessity to litigate the issues of rehabilitation if the custodial parent refuses to accept that a parent has made significant changes and no longer requires supervised visitation. If you believe that you have improved yourself or the circumstances the court had concerns about when the supervised visitation was ordered, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced family law attorney to help you with these issues. A parent should not unnecessarily continue for months in years in supervised visitation if it is no longer needed based on changed circumstances.
Whether you need to seek supervised visitation for the other parent of your child or children or you are defending against allegations of supervised visits, you need a detail-oriented, knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney on your side to help you navigate these issues. Call Pingel Family Law today to let us help you navigate these complicated, difficult and emotional issues for your family (816) 208-8130.
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