Supervised visitation allows parents in high conflict or high risk situations access to their children in a safe and supervised environment. The noncustodial parent has access to the child only when supervised by another adult. Supervised visitation is used to protect children from potentially dangerous situations while allowing parental access and providing support for the parent child relationship.
The purpose of supervised visitation is to provide a safe and neutral environment for children to have a relationship with parents, and is often used in high conflict situations. Many courts take the position that it is better to make an error that protects the child as opposed to leaving a child at risk. There are many reasons supervised visitation may be needed:
- domestic violence,
- sexual abuse,
- drug abuse,
- mental illness,
- risk of international abduction,
- general risk of child abduction,
- Parent alienation
- any other potentially dangerous family situations.
This is true worldwide, for example, Child contact centre in England and Angel House in Texas have a similar purpose. While many countries have signed the Hague Convention which requires the return of victims of international abduction, the best measure is prevention.
Most countries recognize a parent’s right to children, called visitation, residence, or contact. Most courts, including American and European, will allow the parent who does not have primary custody or noncustodial parent to have specified visitation and access to the child. In America the parents must establish a parenting plan setting out specific details. If the parents are not able to agree, the court may order specific possession and access or may appoint a parenting coordinator to assist the parents. The United States recognizes that parents have a constitutional right to their children, even when the parent is accused of conduct that is dangerous to the child.
In most of the US states there is a law required that court-ordered parenting plans must set forth the minimum amount of parenting time and type of access (i.e. supervised/unsupervised) a non-custodial parent is entitled to have. According to the state laws and court guidelines, the Custody Supervisor cannot change the court order to make major modifications to the amount of parenting time and access, only the minor changes or clarification of parenting time/access schedules or conditions including vacation, holidays, and temporary variation from the existing parenting plan are allowed.