In Alabama, many divorced couples—or couples who were never married—opt for a conventional parenting schedule that gives one parent primary custody and the other visitation. In some cases, it’s not up to the parents. The court makes the final decision and awards visitation based on the evidence provided by both parents.
If supervised visitation is being brought up as an option in your case, it’s important to know what that means. Learn more now, and to discuss your case in greater detail, call Haygood, Cleveland, Pierce, Thompson & Short at 334-560-1936.
An Overview of Supervised Visitation
Supervised visitation is a type of parenting time that allows the non-custodial parent to spend time with their child without being the sole adult present. The alternative is unsupervised visitation, which allows the non-custodial parent to spend their time with their child however they wish. In comparison, supervised visitation generally takes place in one preapproved location. Any changes must be approved by the custodial parent and, in many cases, the court.
When Supervised Visitation is Ordered
The court will only consider and order supervised visitation if circumstances very clearly call for it. If the child cannot be guaranteed their safety while in their non-custodial parent’s care, then supervised visitation may be the right choice. It’s often the best option if the non-custodial parent has a history of domestic violence, child abuse, severe untreated mental health issues, alcoholism, or drug abuse.
In these circumstances, the court may still want to allow the parent visitation while they receive treatment and recover from their issues. However, since everything the court does must be in the best interest of the child, they cannot allow the parent unsupervised access to the child. Supervised visitation is the compromise that meets both the needs of the parent and the child.
Supervised visitation is also a viable option if the non-custodial parent is a flight risk or has a history of hiding the child from the custodial parent. This type of visitation ensures that the custodial parent always knows the location of their child.
Who Can Supervise the Non-Custodial Parent
Supervision options vary, depending on how severe the non-custodial parent’s issues are and how much of a threat the court believes they are to the child. In some cases, any safe adult can be the supervising party. The court may have one of the child’s grandparents or other adult family members serve as the supervising party.
This may not be a viable option if the supervising party is the non-custodial parent’s family member and regularly allows the parent unsupervised access to the child. If this happens, the court will likely forbid them from serving as the supervising party and require that visits happen at an approved facility.
If a third party cannot supervise the visitation or the court does not believe it’s in the best interest of the child, visits may have to take place at a visitation facility. These facilities exist exactly for these types of situations. Trained individuals serve as supervisors, monitoring the visits between the child and parent.
The benefit of this option is that the custodial parent may feel safer knowing that a neutral third party is supervising, rather than someone with ties to the non-custodial parent. Downsides include the fees associated with supervised visitation and the fact that these facilities may sometimes feel cold or unwelcoming to children. Costs are usually the responsibility of the non-custodial parent, and facilities are always working toward creating a more home-like environment for visiting children.
Transitioning Out of Supervised Visitation
In some cases, supervised visitation may be ordered until the child grows up. In others, it is only a temporary solution until the adult can be trusted alone with the child. If the circumstances that led to the need for supervised visitation no longer exist, the court may allow the non-custodial parent to transition to unsupervised visitation.
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