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The public policy of the State of California is to protect the best interests of children whose parents have a custody or visitation matter within the family courts. Sometimes, based on issues of protection and safety, a judge will decide that in order for a child to have contact with a parent, a neutral third person must be present during any visitation.
This type of third-person visitation arrangement is often called “supervised visitation”.
A judge may order supervised visitation for many reasons, like:
- to give the visiting parent a chance to address specific issues,
- to help reintroduce a parent after a long absence,
- to help introduce a parent and a child when there has been no existing relationship between the parent and the child,
- when there is a history or allegations of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or substance abuse;
- when there are parenting concerns or mental illness; or
- when there is a parental threat of abduction.
The court order will specify the time and duration of the visits. Sometimes, the court order will also specify who the provider is to be and where the visits are to take place.
1) Who is a Supervised Visitation Provider?
There are three types of supervised visitation providers: the nonprofessional provider, the professional provider, and the therapeutic provider.
The professional and therapeutic providers usually charge a fee for services and are experienced in and trained to provide supervised visitation services. The non-professional provider is usually a family member or friend who does not provide supervised visitation services.
Your court order will usually say which type of provider you have to use to supervise these visits.
2) Are there Training Requirements for a Supervised Visitation Provider?
Yes. Professional and therapeutic providers should receive training on the topics outlined in Standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration.
Also, supervised visitation providers are strongly encouraged to follow the training and education requirements of the Supervised Visitation Network.
3) What is the Job of the Supervised Visitation Provider?
The provider is there to make every effort to keep your child safe and support your child to enjoy the visit with the supervised parent. Whether a paid professional, family member or friend, the provider's job is to make sure that the children involved in the visits are safe and free from any unnecessary stress. The provider must be present at all times during the visit, listen to what is being said, and pay close attention to the child's behavior. If necessary, the provider may interrupt or end a visit. All providers are to report suspected child abuse to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1 (800) 540-4000.
4) How Do I Choose a Non-Professional Provider?
Parents will usually ask a family member or friend that cares and is
concerned for the children and family to act as a nonprofessional provider. This
person must speak the same language as the visiting parent and child. The
parents should ask someone they feel will be impartial and comfortable in
following the court order. A copy of this guide is available at the local court
This guide is available in several languages. Look through this guide. It will help you choose the right person and determine if they are qualified. All providers are responsible for making every reasonable effort to assure the safety and welfare of the child and adults during the visitation, avoid any conflict of interest, maintain neutrality, and follow the terms and conditions in Standard 5.20. Prior to a family member or friend agreeing to act as a supervised visitation provider, you should give the nonprofessional guide to the person you wish to supervise the visits so they can make an informed decision.
For the Visiting Parent
For the Custodial Parent
Supervised visitation can also be a challenge for you. Typically you have been taking care of your child's everyday needs and have a routine for yourself and your family. Supervised visitation can sometimes feel like one more responsibility. Of course you also have concerns and questions about the visits and how they will affect your child. This is understandable. In difficult times you may also want to talk to a mental health professional or find a support group where you can talk about your feelings. Here are a few suggestions that might help you in the process:
For Both Parents
If you need to change the visitation schedule, the provider cannot do that for you. To assist you in filing the proper paperwork, contact your attorney or the Family Law Facilitator.
If you cannot agree on how to modify the court's order and you are both willing to meet with a Court Mediator to assist you in reaching an agreement that can then be filed in court and become an order, call your Family Court Services office to schedule an appointment.
Supervised visitation can be difficult and uncomfortable at times. Often there are hurt and angry feelings toward the other parent, and it seems impossible to have a positive attitude about supervised visitation. Remember that both of you care about your children, and that, if possible, children benefit from having two parents in their lives.