Supervised visitation can feel like a slap in the face or like a ridiculously nice gesture, depending on which side you’re on. One thing that everyone can usually agree on, though, is that supervised visitation isn’t easy on anyone.

What is supervised visitation?

When a couple splits up, a judge may order the visiting parent to have contact with his or her child only when a neutral third person is present. Supervised visitation is often ordered to protect the child’s safety or when the judge has concerns about a parent’s ability to adequately take care of a child. The California child custody order will state the time and duration of the visits and may even specify who will provide the supervised visitation services and where the visits will take place.

How can the visiting parent make the most of the situation?

Trying to bond with your child while another adult is sitting nearby is uncomfortable, to say the least. Knowing that you only have a limited time to spend together adds to the stress of the situation and your desire to make the time “count.” Here are some tips for making your visit as positive as possible:

  • Focus your attention on your child. Do not be distracted by your cell phone or other concerns. Engage the child in a conversation. Play a game or pretend together. Read a book with your child.
  • Show up on time. This time is precious!
  • Do not discuss legal issues with your child. Your child likely won’t understand. Even if your child does understand, it’s not appropriate for a child to be placed in the middle of a legal battle.
  • Do not ask your child questions about the custodial parent or give your child messages to relay to the other parent. You should handle your concerns with the custodial parent yourself.

How can the custodial parent make the most of the situation?

Supervised visitation can a bitter pill to swallow for a custodial parent. This parent may feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities associated with raising a child and not want to take time out for a visitation. Or the parent may be worried about the visiting parent’s ability to be with the child without damaging the child’s emotional state. Here are some tips for making supervised visitation as positive as possible:

  • Remember that a third party is there to protect your child. While it can be easy to get consumed by your fears that something bad will happen, knowing that a neutral party will be in the same room should help alleviate your concerns.
  • Discuss the visits ahead of time with your child. Let your child know when and where the visits will occur.
  • Bring your child’s special comfort items with you. If your young child has a lovey, bring it. If your child is excited about her new boots, let her wear them.
  • Drop off your child on time. It’s not fair for you to make the other parent wait.
  • Do not ask your child questions about the other parent or about the visit. Raise any concerns you have directly with the other parent.

If you have a California child custody concern, who can you call for help?

Supervised visitation can be difficult. If you would like to discuss your California child custody concerns with a San Francisco family lawyer who exclusively represents women, contact the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan at 415-341-1144 or by filling out our online contact form.


Paul Nathan
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Marin County California Divorce, Child Support and Custody Lawyer Representing Women Exclusively