When is Supervised Visitation Appropriate?
When there are allegations or prior instances of family violence, child abuse, neglect, drug abuse, or alcohol dependence, a judge may decide that a third person should be present for any visits between the non-custodial parent and child. This arrangement is referred to as supervised visitation.
The court can order supervised visitation by family members/friends or via formal supervised visitation programs. When it is a formal supervised situation, these third parties are often social workers or other qualified professionals who monitor the child's physical and emotional well-being during visitation. In most cases, the supervisor will sit quietly through the visit while taking notes. The monitor will only interrupt the visit if it becomes necessary to protect the child or the parent's safety.
Typically, supervised visitation and how it is to occur is court-ordered. However, if there is an agreement, the parents may choose which family member, friend, provider, or agency will facilitate the supervised visitation. The cost associated with utilizing these services is typically paid by the parent seeking visitation.
Supervised Visitation is Preferred over No Visitation. Because it is Georgia’s public policy to ensure that children maintain ongoing relationships with both of their parents, supervised visitation is preferred over a complete denial of visitation.
Conditions a Court May Issue on Parenting Time
Protected Setting for Exchanges of Custody
The court can provide protection for the parties and the child during exchanges by making all exchanges of custody happening at certain locations, such as a police headquarters.
The court can order that visitation can only occur under the supervision of another person. In addition to friends and family, the court may elect for supervision to occur by a qualified supervision agency.
Family Violence Intervention Program
A judge may elect to order that an individual attend and complete a family violence intervention program as a condition for parenting time.
No Drugs or Alcohol
Pay for Supervised Visitation
In addition to ordering that any visitation must be supervised, a court can order that person to pay for the supervision services as a condition of supervised visitation.
Prohibit Overnight Visitation
One of the limitations a court may consider under appropriate circumstances is a blanket prohibition against overnight visitation.
Require a Bond
The court may require someone that has committed family violence to obtain a bond to ensure the safe return of their child.
Any Necessary Condition
Georgia law provides a catchall clause that allows a judge to impose any condition it deems necessary to provide for the safety of a child.