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Written by Bill Hunter, Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC, 05/16/2017
* Please note that the following is a brief overview of a complex legal subject and is not meant to provide legal advice. When involved in a child custody dispute, it is important to consult with a family lawyer in your area who is familiar with your local rules and procedures. If your matter is located in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus counties, our Charlotte child custody lawyers can help. Contact us today at 704-412-1442 to speak to an attorney.
Supervised Visitation provisions force a non-custodial parent to conduct visitation with his or her child in the presence of another adult. Supervised visitation conditions may be ordered by a judge as part of a child custody order, or may be entered as part of a parenting plan, separation agreement, consent order, or other agreement between the parties involved. The end of goal of supervised visitation is to protect the child involved while maintaining a relationship with the non-custodial parent.
Have questions or need help with a child custody matter based in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus counties, including the cities of Charlotte, Concord, Harrisburg, Mint Hill, Matthews, Davidson, Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and Kannapolis? Our Charlotte based child custody lawyers are prepared to help with all aspects of child custody disputes, including: drafting agreements and consent orders; assisting with child custody negotiations; filing complaints, motions, and other pleadings; and litigating child custody matters in court. Call us today at 704-412-1442 to speak to one of our attorneys, or complete the contact form on this page and one of our child custody lawyers will contact you shortly.
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Supervised visitation arrangements may vary greatly from situation to situation. A court order may specify time frames and days for the supervised visitation (i.e., Wednesday nights from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and every other Saturday from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm), or may grant a certain number of hours of supervised visitation weekly or bi-weekly and leave the parties involved to hammer out the details.
The length of time that a supervised visitation plan will remain in place may also vary greatly on a case by case basis. Supervised visitation provisions may be included as part of a temporary child custody order which would eventually be followed by a permanent custody hearing or follow up court date to determine whether the supervised arrangement should continue. Supervision may also be required as part of a permanent order, which would require an actual modification (and showing of a substantial change in circumstances impacting the welfare of the minor child) to change. Finally, child custody orders may include a stair-step supervised visitation schedule which would naturally end after the passage of time and/or the completion of certain events (i.e., visitation is supervised for a period of six months and then ends assuming the non-custodial parent has no further issues and completes any required measures, such as counseling, drug/alcohol classes, or anger management classes).
When a supervised period ends, there is a typically a stair-step of non-supervised visitation to give the child and the parent time to re-acquaint and adjust prior to returning to more traditional physical child custody arrangements including full non-supervised visitation with regular overnight visits (i.e., visitation may begin with a period of weeks or months allowing only daytime non-supervised visitation prior to allowing any overnight visitation).
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Supervision during supervised visits must be conducted by an adult. Depending on the circumstances, there may be a large amount of flexibility regarding who supervisors the visitation. In private agreements and consent orders, the parties may work together to determine who supervises the visitations, which may oftentimes wind up being the custodial parent, a family member, or a friend. In more extreme situations, a court may order that a professional, such as therapist, psychologist, social worker, or guardian ad litem, be required to supervise the visitation. Court orders or agreements may require that the supervisor be compensated for his or her time, especially in scenarios when professionals are handling the supervisory role.
In regards to the location of the visitation, and again depending on the circumstances, supervised visitation may occur at the house of one of the parties, in a public place such as a park, or in a more controlled environment such as a therapist’s office.
Biological parents have constitutionally protected rights to time with their minor children. A severe limitation on a parent’s visitation rights, such as requiring supervision, will therefore usually only be ordered in somewhat extreme circumstances, including scenarios involving: alcohol or drug abuse by a parent that does or may impact the minor child; domestic violence; child abuse or neglect; failures of a parent to properly care for the minor child; abandonment of the minor child or long periods without overnight visitation; a substantial risk of abduction; untreated mental illness or emotional instability that does or may impact the minor child; and other erratic behavior of a parent that negatively impacts the minor child.