What is Supervised Visitation?
In many divorce cases with a history of domestic violence, an abusive parent may attempt to exploit informal visits with a child as opportunities to continue abusing a former partner who is in close proximity. In addition, since domestic abuse often involves abuse of a child, even if the victimized partner has orders of protection in place, the child could still be in danger. If the court determines that unsupervised visitation might invite abuse, violence or threat of violence, the court can order supervised visitation.
While it might seem convenient to invite a close friend or family member to supervise visits, this can lead to uncomfortable or even dangerous encounters. An impartial, professional third party who knows the signs of unhealthy, abusive or manipulative behavior is the only appropriate choice for supervisor.
Supervised visitation is a court-ordered arrangement in which a non-custodial parent can visit with a child in the presence of a third party. In order to make supervised visits safe, effective and as positive for the child as possible, supervisors should consider the following guidelines:
- Inform police – If orders of protection are in place, local authorities should know and be alerted by the supervisor as to when and where visitation is being held. Abusive episodes can escalate quickly, so the court should instruct police as to how they should respond in the event they are called to intervene.
- Maintain safety – Arrange drop-off and pickup so former partners with volatile histories do not meet. If it is necessary, arrange screening for weapons. Hold visits in places easily accessible by police and other emergency personnel.
- Follow protocol – Specify rules for visitation and create a protocol for ending a visit in the event rules are broken.
- Protect confidentiality – Maintain the privacy of the child and custodial parent regarding address, phone numbers or other identifying information.
If you are separating from an abusive partner, your divorce attorney can petition the court to order supervised visitation. For more information call the Buffalo, NY Law Offices of Randy S. Margulis and Associates at 716.886.9600 or contact us online.