Overview of Supervised Visitation
Hey guys this is Megan Wilson at Douglass and Runger, PLLC, and today I want to talk about supervised parenting time. I think supervised parent time is a commonly misunderstood phrase or mechanism for parenting time in the courts, first of all what what supervised parenting time is supervised parenting time is when one parent exercises their parenting time with a supervisor that supervisor can be someone who is hired by the parties or by the parent who has to be supervised, or it can be a relative or family member, typically for it to be a relative family member family friend, or non professional person, the parties have to agree on that person. For example, if the party to be supervised says when my mom can supervise. Typically, the other party would have to agree to that, or the court will order it sometimes if the third parties are available at court for the judge to talk to, they will order it even if the other party doesn’t agree. So when that parent said my mom can supervise and the other parent disagreed. If they could then say, well mom’s actually out in the hallway if the judge wants to speak with her. And so then she can come in and the judge could talk to her, ask what the other party’s objection is and kind of see for itself. Then to court in my experience would be more willing to order a third party that’s related to somebody. If you’re in a situation where and neither party really has any family in town or suitable family members that they can agree on. Then you’ll have to use a company. There are several private companies in Shelby County that supervise parenting time, and how that works is typically and each company has their own rules so I’m just speaking generally, but typically the parent who has supervise time is responsible for initiating it. And then the company will reach out to the other parent, set it up, and do an intake process. And then they’ll make the child available and make the company available for times that the other parent chooses so it might be a three hour period on Wednesday night, and then three hours on Saturday, and that sort of thing to be their maximum so it’s not going to be all day, probably, and also the companies charge by the hour. So, it could be very expensive to spend all day on Saturday with your child depending on who is ordered to pay it. And it’s up to the court of the parties to agree on who pays for it. Just like any situation, the parties can agree and then the court doesn’t have to decide, and the parties can agree then the court decides. So, the parent requesting supervision could pay the parent who’s being supervised can be ordered to pay it or they can be ordered to split it more often than not the parent being supervised is the one who is dependent. So the company is set up they send someone to come supervise the time and that supervision is not, it’s not as hands on as some people think it is they’re not going to be involved in the shouter parents relationship and their conversations, they’re not going to be in the middle of it. Their job is really just to make sure that the child is safe, that the parent is appropriate, and that the child’s not in danger so typically they kind of stand back and just observe those people can write reports of what they witnessed that can later be used to court or they could come to court and testify on something to the effect of, there was this incident at the supervised parent time and here’s what it was or, I’ve supervised parenting time for this parent and this child, this many times and there’s never been an incident and they appear to be appropriate, and that sort of thing just based on what they’ve seen. So that’s what supervised parenting time is and who supervises it. Now, most importantly, is when a supervisor can come appropriate. And that’s, I think what’s really misunderstood is a lot of times and a lot of people ask me questions about supervise time and they want supervise time because they don’t think that the other parent can care for the child or care for the child up to that parent standards so one parent has been the primary caretaker. You know, they might say, well, mom or dad’s never given the child a bath, they don’t cook for the child, they can’t change diapers, they don’t know how to care for the child. That is not the basis for supervised parenting time because they’ve got to figure it out at some point, and the only way they’re gonna figure it out, is to do it. And a lot of times parents who don’t have a lot of experience do have their parents or other family members that can help them. Or, you know they’ll ask the parent who has the primary caretaker responsibility, I mean they have to figure it out. Nobody gave you an instruction book when he came home from the hospital with your baby so they need that same opportunity to figure out how to parent. So that’s not a reason for supervised parenting time, reasons for supervised parenting time are that the child is physically morally in danger, with this person. The parent has physically or emotionally abused the child in the past, and the court may require their parent time to be supervised until the court is satisfied that there is no danger to the child, and that parents care. So it’s much more extreme than a van. Just your, you don’t have experience parenting. Typically what we kind of say is that supervised parent time is limited to abusers and drug addicts, and that’s kind of how we think of it because that’s when we see it. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. And there may be some things going on that necessitate supervision, that don’t rise to the level of, you know, abuse or drug addiction. Every case is different, so you know I can’t say that it never happens outside of those two conditions, but if you have someone who has been proven to be abusive to the child and past or is addicted to drugs and alcohol and can’t be trusted to care for that child and keep the child safe and those are usually the cases that you’re going to see supervision and those are kind of the easiest calls for the court to order supervision. If drug addiction or alcohol is a problem. There are also some other things you can do. You can put in a parenting plan that we typically do to keep the child safe. We can, you know, mandate drug testing. We can do it, a certain period of time for after visitation. There’s a device called several length that has a breathalyzer. So there are lots of other mechanisms, we can put in place short of supervision. But typically that those would be put in place after a period of supervision. And then you can kind of gradually be less restrictive. As long as the parent is doing what they’re supposed to do, obviously, if they never show up for the supervised visitations, then they’re never going to get unsupervised. So that’s usually a condition precedent to it getting better, is that you have to show for the supervision, pay for it show up regularly and then if you do all the things that you need to and the supervisor says that you are appropriate. And the parenting time is going well, then you might be able to move to unsupervised parenting time. But if you never show up for the supervised parenting time. No one’s going to give you unsupervised. So that’s a request I see a lot too is, you know, their parents just will not appear for a super fast period of time if it’s insulting to them as a person and a parent and they’re not going to do it and they want it to be unsupervised before they will see their child. Well, that’s not really gonna work. The supervision was put in place for a reason, and if you don’t want to see your child badly enough that you’re willing to put up with someone standing 10 feet away and watching you then you’re probably not going to get unsupervised. So those are some of the things that we hear are commonly questions and misconceptions about supervised parenting time and when it isn’t it’s not appropriate. Again every case is different. I’ve certainly seen cases where supervision was ordered where the things that I just talked about weren’t present but another issue is, it all depends on your case and it’s fact specific so this is just generally how most of the cases done that I’ve seen but it’s certainly not all encompassing. So, I hope I’ve cleared up some misconceptions or educated you just a little bit on supervised parenting time today and thanks for watching.
If you have any further questions do not hesitate to call Megan or her team at Douglass & Runger, PLLC at (901) 388-5805 relating to other questions you may have about divorce process