Every child and every child custody dispute is different and unique. Southern California parents who are involved in disputes over custody, child support, and visitation will need personalized advice and aggressive legal representation from the right Long Beach family law attorney.

Even in cases where a court gives only one parent the legal custody of a child, the non-custodial parent is usually allowed to have visitations with the child. However, in some circumstances, a judge may require visitations to be supervised by a state agency or by another authorized party.

When is supervised visitation ordered by a California family court? How does it work? If you are a parent in this state, keep reading, especially if you are divorced or divorcing, because you need to know the answers to these questions.

WHAT IS THE HIGHEST PRIORITY OF A CALIFORNIA FAMILY COURT?

The highest priority of this state’s family courts is the best interests of the children whose families are involved in a child custody, child support, or visitation dispute.

California law makes the health, welfare, and safety of a child the court’s leading concern. California lawmakers believe that – in most cases and in most families – consistent and regular contact with both parents is beneficial to most children in most circumstances.

HOW DOES SUPERVISED VISITATION WORK?

But in some of those circumstances, a judge may require a neutral third party to be present at a visitation. This arrangement is “supervised” visitation. California judges may require supervised visitations for many reasons, including but not limited to those listed here. Supervised visitation:

1. allows a visiting parent to address particular issues
2. introduces a parent to a child when no relationship has existed
3. reintroduces a parent to a child when there has been a long period without contact
4. protects a child when there has been evidence of alcohol and/or drug abuse
5. protects a child when there has been evidence of domestic violence
6. protects a child when there is a potential threat of parental abduction

The court order spells out exactly when and for how long a supervised visitation takes place. The court order may also specify which party is responsible for supervision and where the visitations will take place.

WHO CAN BE A VISITATION SUPERVISOR?

A visitation supervisor may be a friend, a close relative, or a professional social worker or family counselor. The visitation supervisor ensures that the child or children remain protected and safe during supervised visitations.

A visitation supervisor must be on the scene at every moment of a supervised visit and has the authority to interrupt a visit or to bring it to a close. A visitation supervisor must pay close attention to a child’s behavior and report any hint or suspicion of child abuse.

As mentioned previously, a visitation supervisor may or may not be a professional paid by the state. Professional visitation supervisors are trained and experienced. They may charge you for their services.

WHAT IS REQUIRED OF VISITATION SUPERVISORS?

All visitation supervisors must provide fingerprints and must have no convictions for child abuse, child molestation, or other crimes against persons. Visitation supervisors must buy and maintain the insurance coverage that is applicable to their work and the services they provide.

Parents may ask a friend or a family member to act in the role of a nonprofessional visitation supervisor. A nonprofessional visitation supervisor must:

1. remain impartial and avoid conflicts of interest
2. be fluent in the language used by the parent and child
3. comply with all terms, conditions, and requirements of California family law
4. make every reasonable effort to ensure the safety of everyone involved in a visitation

When domestic violence and child abuse are concerns, a nonprofessional visitation supervisor may not be the best option. A visitation supervisor must have the skills and knowledge that may be needed in cases where there is a potential for child abuse or domestic violence.

WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A VISITATION SUPERVISOR

The court order, your family law attorney, or a Family Court Services office can provide you with the names of professional visitation supervisors near you.

When you choose a visitation supervisor, here’s what to look for:

1. compliance with the educational and training requirements set forth by California law
2. fingerprinting and a criminal background check
3. expertise and substantial experience supervising visitations
4. a good reputation with the court and with his or her peers and colleagues

When you meet with a professional visitation supervisor, discuss his or her fees, hours, safety measures, procedures, and guidelines. A custodial parent should be entirely comfortable with a professional visitation supervisor – or should find another one – before visitations begin.

Feel free to have as many discussions as you need with the visitation supervisor – and with your family law attorney – until you are as comfortable as possible with supervised visitations, if that is what the court has ordered.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE VISITING (NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT)

A non-custodial parent may also be uncomfortable with supervised visitations. Try to focus on your children and your relationship with them. Your commitment and patience are important for both you and your child. Listed below are some tips that you may find helpful:

1. Read the court order for supervised visitation completely.
2. Be sure that you fully understand the court order’s terms and conditions.
3. Arrive for the visitation on time, and conclude the visitation on time.
4. Do not discuss the case or any family legal matters with the children.
5. Do not ask the children about the custodial parent’s relationships and activities.
6. Don’t use the children as “go-between” messengers.
7. Make the good-byes positive and brief when a visitation concludes.

WHAT IS EVERY PARENT’S RIGHT?

Supervised visitations may be difficult and quite uncomfortable, but these visitations are important. Remember that your children benefit from having both parents as a part of their lives whenever it is possible.

If either parent needs to make a change to the schedule for visitations, the visitation supervisor can’t do that for you. Instead, your attorney will have to request a change in the visitation schedule from the court.

In southern California, the right Long Beach family law attorney will also fight for you and your child in a divorce proceeding or in any child custody, child support, or visitation dispute. Nothing is more important than your child, and a good attorney’s help is every parent’s right.