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What Is Supervised Visitation, and When Is It Enforced?


Seeing one’s child on a regular basis is essential to maintaining and developing a meaningful relationship as a parent. Children grow in direct relation to the values and influence instilled by their parents, which comes during interactions in comfortable environments. The majority of divorced parents share time with their children so that each parent has an opportunity to participate in their children’s lives. This arrangement is determined by the terms of the parenting plan, a document that governs how parents share responsibilities over child custody issues. However, courts do limit the ability of some parents to see and communicate with their children due to concerns over the child’s safety and emotional health. Courts are reluctant to completely ban a parent from a child’s life, and will only do so in extreme circumstances. An alternative that controls the environment and manner of interaction between the parent and child is supervised visitation. Parents with ex-spouses or partners that present a danger or some other serious risk to themselves or their child’s wellbeing should know about this option since it offers the child some ability to retain a relationship with both parents.

When is supervised visitation used?

As stated above, most parents share parenting responsibilities, which means each parent is solely responsible for providing routine childcare tasks for some period of time on a regular basis. This arrangement assumes that both parents are fit to care for the child, and responsible enough to complete childcare tasks. However, if a parent is legally restricted in how he/she is permitted to communicate with or see a child, there is some evidence of present or past behavior indicating the parent is likely to pose an unreasonable risk to the child. The following behavior will almost always compel a court to impose supervised visitation:

  • physical abuse;
  • drug use;
  • Neglect;
  • sexual abuse;
  • domestic violence; and
  • alcohol abuse.

A criminal conviction related to these issues is not necessarily required for a court to enforce supervised visitation, but convictions make it more likely, especially in cases of physical or sexual abuse and domestic violence.

What is supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation is a procedure that allows noncustodial parents to see their children under the observation of monitor in a neutral and safe environment. Its purpose is to promote a healthy relationship between the parent and child while also protecting the child and other parent from potential harm. The Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation is a state-funded entity that regulates supervised visitation throughout the state. It offers a number of different supervised visitation programs that were created to address various types of dysfunction and victimization within families. Every judicial circuit has at least one supervised visitation program, which makes it easier for parents to access these services. Some of services provided by the supervised visitation programs include:

  • one-to-one supervision;
  • supportive or education supervision;
  • monitored interactions;
  • group supervision;
  • telephone monitoring;
  • therapeutic supervision; and
  • supplemental services, such as parent education.

The role of monitors will vary with the needs and circumstances of each family, but generally, the monitor will:

  • watch for the safety of all participants at a visit;
  • relay information on the child’s welfare between the custodial and noncustodial parent;
  • assist with appropriate interactions at visits;
  • provide feedback, correction, or redirection to the parties as necessary; and
  • suspend or end visitation sessions when safety cannot be ensured

Talk to a Florida Family Law Attorney

If you are concerned about the safety of your child during visits with your ex-spouse or partner, call a family law attorney today to learn how you can limit visitation and protect your family. Evidence must be presented to justify these restrictions, and an experienced family law attorney will know the type of information to gather and how to best present to the court. The Fort Lauderdale Law Office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. handles all types of child custody cases, and can help you find the arrangement that is best for you and your family. Contact the office for a free consultation.



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