Did you or your ex move away after your split? Did weekend or summer visits fail to happen, and along with it, the contact your ex had with your kids? Maybe your ex struggles with addiction issues, or the parenting relationship between you has become increasingly contentious over time. There are many reasons a parent may hesitate to send their child or children with their ex, due to valid concerns over the physical and emotional safety of children. Is it possible to support a relationship with the other parent and protect your child from harm or trauma?
Supervised visitation, defined
In some situations, supervised visitation is an option to explore. In California, when there are concerns about the relationship between a parent and child, a judge may order a neutral party to be present when the estranged or unfamiliar parent spends time with the child. The visit may have to take place at a neutral location. A judge in family court may order supervised parenting time in the following circumstances:
When reunification between a child and an absent parent is needed following a separation from the child’s life;
- A relationship between a parent and child has never been established;
- When a parent struggles with substance abuse or mental illness;
- Past incidents of violence or child abuse and neglect;
- Parental abduction is a concern;
- Inadequate or lack of parenting skills is suspected or parents have yet to resolve other serious conflicts about caring for the child.
If supervised visitation is ordered, the court will set forth when the visits occur, and how long it will last. The location and neutral third party may also be appointed at the court’s discretion, but the decision is dependent upon your circumstances.
A court ordered child custody evaluation may be part of this process. It involves psychological evaluation, and observations of social workers to assess the interaction between your child and the other parent, step parent, and any step or half siblings involved. Evaluations include you and immediate family members spending time with the child and can include observations of the joint relationship dynamics of both parents around the child. A recommendation based on the evaluation is made to the judge, which could result in court ordered counseling or other parenting education.