In their child custody agreement, parents divide their parenting responsibilities as well as time with their children.
But many parents might wonder: what if the other parent is unreliable or unfit? Will they still have to share custody and visitation? Virginia family courts rarely give one parent sole custody, since state laws mandate that children have a right to keep in contact with both of their parents.
However, if parents worry about their child’s safety or well-being when they are visiting the other parent, they can request an arrangement of supervised visitation.
What does supervised visitation entail?
In supervised visitation, children can still visit their other parent and spend time with them, but there is always a third party, or supervisor, present. This supervisor has two primary objectives:
- Oversee the interactions between the parent and child to make sure the child is safe; and
- Observe the parent’s behavior with the child.
This arrangement allows children to see their other parent, but it also ensures that children will be safe.
When would family courts order supervised visitation?
Family courts will often order supervised visitation if:
- The parent suffers from a severe mental illness that interferes with their daily life or perception of reality;
- The parent struggles with drug or alcohol abuse;
- They have a history of anger issues or abuse that could put the child in danger; or
- They are unfit to parent.
It is often in the child’s best interests to spend time with both of their parents. That is why Virginia courts generally favor supervised visitation over no visitation at all unless families face extreme circumstances. For example, if a parent has a criminal record, courts may determine it is not in the child’s best interests to see that parent.
Note: Supervised visitation is often temporary
Generally, supervised visitation is meant to be rehabilitative. The goal of such an arrangement is often to help the other parent reach a point where they no longer need supervision. Parents should keep that in mind if they are considering requesting supervised visitation when their child visits the other parent.
Complex custody and visitation matters can be incredibly stressful and emotional for families to handle on their own, but the attorneys at Bowen Ten Long & Bal, PC, have the compassion and legal knowledge to help families find the solutions and arrangements that best meet their needs.