Supervised visitation is a type of divorce agreement that the courts might order if a family law judge believes it is in a child’s best interest to only have contact with a parent under the supervision of a neutral third party. A judge may order this type of arrangement if the parent has a history of alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness, or domestic violence, or if there is no existing relationship between the parent and child. If a judge orders supervised visitation, he or she will elect an individual – often a friend or family member – as the supervisor. Here’s what you need to know about this process and position.
Duties of a Supervised Visitation Provider
The supervised visitation provider must provide these services without pay. This job is difficult and comes with certain roles, duties, and responsibilities. You must obey the stipulations of the court order and provide a safe, structured setting conducive to the well-being of the child. You must provide these services without letting your own thoughts or opinions about the situation interfere. The non-professional supervised visitation provider has the following responsibilities:
- Not taking sides. The provider must remain a neutral, unbiased third party without expressing bad opinions about one parent to the child or other parent. The provider should not let the parent express negative comments about the other parent or talk about the court case in front of the child(ren).
- Obeying court orders. The provider must obtain a copy of the court order from a parent and carefully read its instructions. It is up to the provider to adhere to its stipulations in terms of times, locations, and visitation rules and restrictions. The provider must be strict with the rules of the court orders at all times.
- Supervising the entire visit. One of the most important duties is to supervise the parent while with the child during the entire visit. The provider should clearly see the pair, hear all conversations, and be aware of all contact between parent and child. The provider should never allow a visit if the parent appears to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Identifying red flags of abuse. The provider should never allow the parent to spank, harm, threaten, or otherwise injure the child during the visit. The provider should watch for physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The courts encourage non-professional providers to attend training on child abuse and how not to neglect to recognize signs.
If at any time a visit takes a bad turn, it is the provider’s responsibility to interrupt the visit, terminate it, or reschedule it for another time. This might be necessary if the child becomes distressed during the visit or if the parent somehow jeopardizes the child’s safety. The court expects providers to exert a “reasonable effort” to make sure that the visitation is safe, comfortable, and within the terms of a court order. Talk to a lawyer for more information about this job if the courts have appointed you as a non-professional supervised visitation provider in California.