I Have Been Ordered, Right or Wrong, Supervised Visitation with My Child –
How Do I Return to a Standard Possession Order?
In a perfect world, parents going through the divorce process work together for the best interest of their child(ren) and are granted possession of the child(ren) approximately fifty (+ or -) percent of the time. However, issues such as severe parental alienation, drug addiction, mental or physical abuse, neglect, and severe mental illness may force a parent to petition the courts to order limited or supervised visitation. On some occasions, a parent is regrettably ordered into supervised visitation due to false, inaccurate or misleading information. Regardless of the circumstances, court ordered supervised visitation is costly, may substantially limit the amount of time a parent is allowed to spend with their child, and can create a difficult and costly transition into a standard possession order.
If the court has ordered supervised visitation seek proper counsel from a qualified attorney as soon as possible. If a case, rightly or wrongly, has been established for supervised visitation by the evidence or circumstances or court order, you will need to build a case for reinstatement of standard or standard expanded possession as soon as possible.
During a supervised visit it is imperative that you keep any comments on the case to yourself. Avoid giving any opinions on the existing judgment or the supervised visitation order. Within reason, limit your conversation to what is strictly necessary for the child to have a safe, happy and healthy visit. Be polite and courteous with the monitor even if you develop strong negative feelings regarding him or her. Continue to enforce the importance of wanting and seeing your child and spending quality time with your child as much as possible. Never, under any circumstances speak negatively about the other parent to or in the presence of the child or the monitor. Never, use vulgar or abusive language toward or in the presence of the child or the monitor. The visitation monitor may be an important asset at future hearings regarding a change from supervised visitation to a standard or expanded possession order.
Make every scheduled visit without fail. If unable to make a scheduled visit, contact the monitor as soon in advance as possible with an appropriate explanation and request an alternative date. Bring family members whenever possible and clear it with the visitation monitor prior to their attendance. Bring cards and gifts, not only from you but from family members. If visits are going well request off-site visits at a nearby restaurant or park. Though visits may be costly, the more frequently you are observed in a loving relationship with your child the better the chance of supervised visitation being suspended or terminated all together.
Involve a psychiatrist or qualified counselor in your visitation schedule if at all possible. Such professionals are key as you begin to build your case for standard possession since they are able to make suggestions to the Court as to how visits are progressing and the manner in which standard possession can be accomplished.
If you have been ordered to have drug or alcohol testing performed, take each test as scheduled and make certain you are free of drugs and alcohol. A positive drug or alcohol test may place you back at square one and undermine your progress.
If a social study is ordered, dispose of any prescription drugs not needed or which are out of date and put away any alcohol in your home. Make certain your home is clean and orderly when the evaluation is performed. In such cases, a qualified professional will come to your home and evaluate the environment as it pertains to the best interest of the child. If you have been ordered into supervised visitation because of drugs or alcohol it is imperative that these items not be sitting around the home when a social worker is performing his/her evaluation to avoid negative results or an invalid conclusion.
Keep your child support current at all times! If the supervised visitation is placing a financial strain on your ability to pay child support, have an attorney address modifying your child support obligation in a Motion to Modify. It is counterproductive to request unsupervised visitation if you are not current in your financial responsibility toward your child.
Some very important tips a non-custodial parent should follow on a supervised visit:
Follow the schedule of your visits to the letter. Never cancel except for dire emergencies!
Always arrive on time.
Focus totally on your children. Don’t ask about the custodial parent or exchange information or be judgmental in your comments. This is your time with your children.
Have a game plan on what you will do when talking and spending time with your children. Stay open to suggestion from your children on what they would like to do with you so everyone enjoys the visit.
Talk with your children about what you are doing in your life. Ask about their activities and school, but don’t press for information. Let them know that you are interested in what they care about.
Always keep your word. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep!
Avoid talking about the custodial parent at all times, the divorce, and any court actions. Keep all conversations light and positive. This is your time for your children. Use it to reconnect and enjoy each other.
Do not criticize the custodial parent or make negative comments about the supervised visitation. This is all the time you have with the children. Love, embrace and enjoy them every moment.
You may not like it, but follow the rules set forth for the supervised visitation. Respect the process and this may help to encourage the court to change your status to unsupervised visitation.