In most divorce and parenting cases, the court wants to keep both parents in the child’s life. What this looks like, exactly, varies from family to family. For parents who both have played an integral role in the child’s upbringing, the court will attempt to split parenting time equitably, though not necessarily equally. Most arrangements will have one parent keep the children throughout the week, with the other parent caring for the kids over the weekend. However, some families do not have healthy enough relationships to have this type of parenting plan. In the instance that a child’s safety is at risk, the court will need to reconsider what these parenting plans will look like. Depending on the details of the situation, the court may grant supervised visitation in order to keep the parent-child relationship alive while protecting the child from potential harm.
Reasons for Supervised Visitation
For parents with a history of neglect and abuse, the court will advocate for the child by not letting them be alone with the parent. Unfortunately, these accusations are not always true — it is not unheard of for one parent to make false claims about the other to restrict their parenting rights. Courts will grant supervised visitation to watch the relationship between the parent and child and assess the child’s safety with the parent. The following are reasons why someone may be subject to supervised visitation with their child:
- Fear of the parent kidnapping their child from their co-parent
- Accusations or evidence of physical or emotional abuse
- A history of drug or alcohol abuse
- Previous inappropriate sexual behavior
- A mental illness diagnosis
- Claims that the child feels unsafe when they are alone with the parent
- Incarceration of the non-custodial parent
How to Handle the Supervision
If you have recently been restricted to supervised visitation with your child, your instinct is likely to fight for you and your child’s rights to be together. While this may seem like an admirable response, it can be taken in the wrong way by the court. The best way to earn your way back into your child’s life, unsupervised, is by respecting the regulations of your current arrangement and working to keep your relationship with your child. It is important that you understand that all of your conversations and interactions with your kids are being recorded throughout your visit — any slip-up can be used against you. It is a good idea to plan activities for your time together since it can be awkward to have a genuine interaction while a third party is present. Having a plan can distract you from the stranger in the room and will also show that you care for your child and your time together. Be sure to monitor your tone and language throughout the visit. You should avoid talking about your former spouse and using crude language. You want to appear to be a good influence for your child, rather than a bitter ex. For your own personal sanity, it may be a good idea to find a friend who you can vent to or even speak with a counselor or other mental health specialist. If you do not take the time to process the arrangement and your feelings about it, you may end up boiling over during your supervised visit....