When Should There Be Supervised Visitation & Parenting Time?
What You Should Know About Supervised Visitation & Parenting Time In Arizona
When two parents of a child separate, there often must be a parenting plan put in place so that each parent can have time with the child. These plans can vary widely to fit the needs of each specific family, including sometimes requiring supervised parenting time. In these cases, specially trained persons will attend and monitor the visitation time so that all parties can enjoy the full benefits of the visit.
What Is Supervised Parenting Time?
Supervised parenting time is child visitation that involves someone else in attendance as a chaperone. This is to ensure that the time spent with the child is safe and appropriate. The court may order supervised parenting time when there is a high risk of abuse by one parent to the child. Arizona’s family courts take allegations of abuse seriously, and will take every possible step to prevent it. However, in some situations, it is still more beneficial for the child to have a relationship with the noncustodial parent, even if it comes with limitations. Like all other custody issues, supervised parenting time will be ordered if it is in the child’s best interest.
When Is Supervised Visitation Appropriate?
There are a number of situations that call for supervised visitation in a parenting plan, including:
- Allegations of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by one parent to the child
- A parent’s mental illness or psychological disorder that poses a threat to the child’s well-being
- One parent has a substance abuse problem
- One parent is trying to re-join the child’s life after a long period of absence
- There is a reasonable fear of parental kidnapping/abduction by one parent
- The parent committed domestic violence against the custodial parent
What Is the Best Interest Of a Child?
The best interest of a child is the standard Arizona family courts use to make custody decisions. There are several presumptions that the courts hold of what is in the child’s best interests, but they can be rebutted. One of these presumptions is that it is usually best for the child to spend equal (or close to equal) amounts of time with each parent. If that isn’t possible, the courts still prefer for each of the parents to at least have a relationship with the child. Sometimes, it is appropriate for both parents to have parenting time with the child, but for only one parent to have decision-making, also known as legal custody. This refers to a parent’s right to make decisions about the child’s schooling, religious tutelage, medical treatments, and more. In general, a parent with supervised child visitation will not have legal decision-making of their child.
There are several factors that the court will examine when deciding what is in the child’s best interests. These factors are designed to be those that are most relevant to the child’s physical and mental well-being. The court will review the child and parent’s past relationship, current relationship, and the relationship potential between the two in the future. The physical and mental health of both the parents and the child will be considered, as well as each parent’s ability to deal with any of the child’s special needs. The court will consider whether each parent will allow the child to have a relationship with the other parent without interference. If one parent is found likely to participate in this type of interference, known as parental alienation, the other parent is more likely to be awarded child custody. At a certain age and maturity level, the judge will take the child’s wishes into consideration. The child’s relationship with other members of each parent’s household will also be taken into consideration. The judge will also contemplate how the child will adjust to each community, school, household, etc. There are several other factors the court may consider when determining what is in your child’s best interests, and some may be extremely specific to your case. It is best to discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney before requesting or answering a request for supervised visitation.
Equal parenting time isn’t the only best interests presumption for custody in Arizona. Many of our clients are surprised to learn that there is no preference for mothers to have custody in Arizona, as the presumption is that both mothers and fathers are equally equipped to raise their children. Another presumption is that if one parent has committed domestic violence, the burden will be on that parent to prove why the parents should share joint custody of their children.
How Does Supervised Visitation Work In Arizona?
In general, supervised visitation would be ordered for a non-custodial parent. The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lives. In some cases, the judge may find it sufficient for a family member to supervise visits in one of the parent’s homes. The parents can bring their own suggestions of family members to supervise visits to the judge. In more serious situations, the judge may require that the supervised visitation occur at a special visitation center. Here, a professional such as a social worker or a psychologist will conduct the supervision. This is to ensure that the parent is responsible during the visit, that the visit isn’t detrimental to the child, and possibly even work towards healing a damaged relationship between the parent and child.
If the court requires that visitation occur under professional supervision, it generally isn’t free of charge. For example, in Arizona, you might expect to pay around $60 for a regular supervised visit. A therapeutic visit, or a visitation supervised by a licensed mental health professional, will cost more- expect to pay closer to $100 per visit. Supervised visitation centers may also require for the family to complete an evaluation, which may come with an extra charge.
What Is a Supervised Exchange?
A supervised exchange, also referred to as a monitored exchange, is slightly different from supervised visitation. This involves a third party supervising child transfers between the parents. In most cases, this is less about the child’s physical safety and more about preventing the parents from arguing, especially in front of the child. The parents can independently agree to supervised exchanges in their parenting plan, or it may be ordered by the court. Some parents may choose to not see one another at all during child custody exchanges. Other times, it is more appropriate for a neutral third party to observe the custody transfer. The exchange can happen at a location of the parent or court’s choosing, or at a professional custody exchange center. Once the exchange is complete, the parent can return home with their child to enjoy parenting time, unsupervised.
If the parents choose to have a third party custody exchange service witness the transfer, there will usually be a fee. The fee may either be paid by one parent, or split between the two. The parent/s responsible for paying the fee will be designated in the parenting plan. You can expect to pay $30-$50 for each exchange, with additional fees for late arrivals or tardiness.
How Common Is It To Have Supervised Parenting Time Ordered?
Supervised parenting time is unnecessary in most parenting plans. Unless there is a reasonable and significant threat to the child’s well-being, being involved in your child’s life is a constitutionally protected right. The court will thoroughly investigate any allegations of abuse or neglect before ordering supervised visitation for a parent.
Hire An Arizona Visitation Attorney To Assist
Supervised visitation can be an effective way for a parent with temporary struggles to foster a meaningful relationship with their child. Or, it can be used as a tool for vengeance by a bitter parent to block the other parent’s relationship with their child. Our AZ family law attorneys have experience both in helping our clients request supervised visitation for the other parent, and fighting a request for supervised visitation by the other parent. We will use our knowledge and experience to assist you in formulating a parent plan that is beneficial for you and your child. Our attorneys also offer competitive rates with flexible payment options to work with your budget. To learn more, contact us or use our online form to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona custody attorneys today.