Supervised Visitation – Monitored Visits Keep Children Comfortable and Safe
by Vanessa Soto Nellis
Not all supervised visitation orders are made by a family law court because of the potential for violence or abuse.
Sometimes a court will order a monitored visit by a third party simply to keep a child comfortable with a parent – especially if the parent had problems parenting (e.g., discussed inappropriate topics, did not properly supervise the child, etc.), has been absent for a period of time, or to introduce a parent to a child when no previous relationship existed.
Of course, there are the more serious situations for which supervised visits are ordered: There may be a threat of abduction in contentious divorces where child custody is in dispute, a parent has a drug or alcohol problem, there is a history of abuse or neglect, or one of the parties suffers mental illness.
No matter what the reason, keep in mind that supervised visits are ordered with your child’s best interests in mind, and that the providers of supervised visits should be neutral parties.
Finding a Supervised Visit Provider
You have three options when choosing someone to supervise visits with your child. You will need to decide if the monitors will be professionals, non-professionals, or therapeutic.
Also, they will need to be at least 21 years old, with no DUI convictions in the last five years, not on probation in the last 10 years, and have no convictions for crimes against another person. They will also need proof of auto insurance so they can transport the child to and from supervised visitations, if necessary. There are agencies that will provide monitors as well as a location for visits.
1. Professional Providers – Your Child Custody Lawyer will generally have a list of referrals for you. Here in California, these providers will comply with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration. They and their staff will have background clearances.
Many will also be registered with TrustLine (1-800-822-8490) – if you can get the provider’s CA driver’s license number and name, TrustLine will be able to tell you if there are any criminal convictions or reports of abuse by that provider in California.
2. Non-Professional Providers – Some parents feel more comfortable asking a family member or friend to act as a supervised visitation provider. However, there are certain conditions. The non-professional supervised visit provider must be:
a.) A neutral party, impartial to either parent (e.g., a mutual friend), and able to avoid conflicts of interest
b.) Able to speak the same language as the visiting parent and the child
c.) Able to follow court orders, including compliance with standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration
d.) Able to make reasonable efforts to assure safety and welfare of the children and adults during the visitation
The non-professional monitors may need to testify in court, if a custody dispute arises.
3. Therapeutic Providers – These supervised visitation monitors are mental health professionals. Monitored visits will occur in a clinical setting.
If you have more than one child, the number of monitors required depends on a variety of factors, such as their ages and levels of risk to the welfare of the children.
If you need more information about implementing supervised visits while processing and finalizing your divorce proceedings, you can reach me at 818.990.2120.
Vanessa Soto Nellis is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer in our Family Law Practice Group.