Supervised visitation is not a concept that is unique to Georgia. There are several states that recognize the concept of supervised visitation in situations in which the court presiding over the matter deems is appropriate. In Georgia, supervised visitation may be defined as visitation that occurs between a non-custodial parent and his or her child that is monitored or supervised by a third party.
Generally, the third parties that serve as monitors during supervised visitation are social workers or other qualified child care professionals that monitor the well-being of the child and the interaction between the parent and the child during visitation. Under certain circumstances however, family members or other household members may serve as supervisors as long as certain guidelines are followed. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-7(d). The supervisors normally do not play an active role in the visitation session, but instead observe the visitation session quietly and make observation notes concerning the attitude and actions of both the child and the parent during visitation. In most cases, the monitor will only interrupt or intervene in a visit if the parent threatens the child’s safety or wellbeing.
Supervised visitation is usually court ordered in child custody matters where there are allegations of or prior instances of family violence, child abuse, neglect, drug abuse or alcohol dependence. See generally O.C.G.A. § 19-9-7. Because Georgia courts prefer for children to maintain ongoing relationships and have contact with both parents after a divorce or other family change, supervised visitation is ordered in lieu of completely denying one parent visitation with his or her child in matters where one parent has committed acts of family violence.
Although supervised visitation is normally court ordered, in situations where one parent’s ability to positively interact with his or her children independently is in question, parents may agree for that parent’s visitation to be supervised until that parent is able to positively interact with his or her child without supervision. In situations such as this, the parent may also choose the agency or supervised visitation provider that will facilitate the visits. Alternatively however, in instances where the supervised visitation is court order, the decision regarding who will facilitate the supervised visitation is often made by the presiding court, not the parties involved.