California’s family court system places a big emphasis on the rights of parents during child custody proceedings. However, the court’s highest priority is the safety and welfare of the children involved. This is the reason why family courts require a neutral third party to be present during visits in certain cases, such as when the parent has a history of unsafe or abusive behavior, has a mental health condition, or has never met the child before.
If a parent is awarded only supervised visitation rights, the judge may mandate what type of supervisor must be used during the visit. Below is an overview of some of the different types of child custody supervisors.
When a judge orders supervised visitation rights, he or she may specify whether the supervisor must be through a private neutral agency or can be a non-professional, familiar supervisor. If the former is the mandated court option, the visitation must be supervised through a private visitation program. These are businesses which offer paid supervision services. Most offer facilities that are designed especially for visitation purposes. They have areas that resemble a living room or play area, complete with couches and a coffee table. The parent and child meet in this space while supervised by a professional supervisor employed by the agency.
A major advantage to using these agencies is to allow for minimized contact between the parents. They generally allow staggered drop off and pick times so that parents don’t have to see each other while dropping off and picking up their child.
However, there are also disadvantages to using visitation agencies. One major con is that these types of supervised visits cost money. Most agencies cost an average of $50 per hour of visitation time, and most require an initial enrollment fee as well. Another disadvantage is that these visits can feel artificial or uncomfortable due to the presence of the supervisor.
Non-Professional and Familial Visitation Supervisors
In child custody situations where the family court is not as concerned about a visiting parent being a danger to the child, the judge may allow a trusted relative or friend to act as the visitation supervisor. Under California law, a non-professional supervisor must meet the following criteria:
- At least 21 years of age
- Not be on parole or probation for at least 10 years
- Not have a DUI within the previous 5 years
- Have no record of assault, child abuse, or child molestation
- Have no restraining orders within the last 10 years
- Not have a conflict of interest involving the parent being supervised, or be financially dependent on the parent
Visitations supervised by a friend or family member are generally more comfortable for both the child and the parent, especially if the court allows the visit to take place in the child’s home. Another benefit is not having to pay supervision costs.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Child Custody Attorney
If you are involved in a child custody battle or simply have questions regarding child custody, it is important that you have a knowledgeable attorney fighting for your rights. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Central Valley child custody attorney, please call Gurjit Srai (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.