Supervised visitation is a court-ordered judgment where a parent with significant problems is permitted to spend time with his or her children only in a safe, controlled and supervised environment. Supervised visitation can be ordered in any custody case.
Missouri law provides that frequent, continuing and meaningful contact with both parents is in the best interest of the child, unless the court finds that contact could endanger the child’s physical health or impair his or her emotional development. In those cases, the court can order supervised visitation or–in rare cases – can revoke visitation rights of a parent.
Supervised visitation is a way to allow access to both parents, while still protecting children from a potentially dangerous situation.
In Missouri, “supervised visitation” has been defined as “visitation which takes place in the presence of a responsible adult appointed by the court for the protection of the child.” In some instances, the Court may appoint a social worker as a paid supervisor, and in others they may permit a family member to supervise visits when there is perceived to be a lower level of potential danger to the child. If those choices are not available, due to financial resources or other reasons, some courts have a court sponsored facility or department that provides these services at no cost.
There are a number of reasons why a court may order supervised visitation, including:
• drug abuse
• sexual abuse
• domestic violence
• mental illness
• risk of child abduction or international abduction
• any other potentially dangerous family situation
In order for a judge to order supervised visitation in Missouri there must be strong evidence that the child is in danger or could be placed in danger absent the supervision. Every case that leads to supervised visitation is different. However, they all have one thing in common–they are very emotional, and can cause a great deal of fear and upset for the families.
The experience and knowledge to navigate the details of supervised visitation and finding the resources to make it happen requires a lawyer who practices extensively with families in high conflict and highly emotional cases. The attorneys at Paule, Camazine and Blumenthal have had extensive experience in steering families through this difficult process.