You have been awarded sole physical custody. The children will live with you and have biweekly visits with their father. You realize that despite custody arrangements, both parents have an equal right to access to the children. Yet, you are very uncomfortable with the children spending unsupervised time with their other parent. Is there anything that you can do?

It depends on the circumstances. California family courts consider maintaining the parent-child relationship of utmost importance; however the court realizes that conditions may exist that can make visitation uncomfortable or even dangerous for a child.

Under certain circumstances, California supervised visitation is an option. Supervised visitation is used to protect children from potentially dangerous situations while allowing a non-custodial parent  to spend time with the children and develop the parent-child relationship. If supervised visitation is ordered, the noncustodial parent has access to the child only when supervised by another adult.  

You cannot request supervised visitation because you don’t approve of your ex’s lifestyle, religion or parenting style. You can request supervised visitation if you believe that being alone with their father will pose a danger to your children’s emotional or physical health and well-being.

 A judge may order supervised visitation for any of the following reasons:

  • There is a history or allegations of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, domestic violence or molestation
  • There are allegations of drug abuse or alcoholism
  • There is a concern about mental illness
  • There is the potential that the non-custodial parent will abduct or kidnap the child
  • The parent has been out of the child’s life for a significant period of time and there is no existing relationship

If supervised visitation is ordered, a neutral third person must be present during all time spent with the child.

There are several types of supervised visitation:

  • One-on-one supervision: The parent and children meet alone in the presence of a third-party monitor. This third-party can be a family member or friend or a paid, professional monitor.  
  • Group supervision: Several parent-child groups meet together in a large area with one or more professional monitors. There may be organized activities or parents may be responsible for planning their own visits.
  • Neutral or monitored exchange: A third party will pick up the child for visitation and drop off the child after visitation so the parents do not make direct contact with each other. This can be helpful if there is a restraining order.
  • Telephone or video monitoring: Visitations occur remotely, via telephone or video conference. This is a good option if the non-custodial parent travels a lot or if a parent is in prison or a drug rehabilitation program
  • Therapeutic Visitation: Visitation is monitored by a psychologist or social worker who can help facilitate the visitation. This is an option when the child has strong, negative emotions about the visit.

When supervised visitation is ordered, the court order will specify the time and duration of the visits. In some cases, the court order will also specify where the visits are to take place and who (relative, friend or professional) will supervise the visits.

Talk to your San Francisco child custody attorney about your concerns. He will make the court aware of any threats to the children’s safety and help find the right visitation option for you and your children. 

The Marin County women-only divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan are dedicated to protecting the rights of women and their children during the California divorce process. To make an appointment, call us at 415-341-1144