How do I get supervised visitation?

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 by Katie Carter

If you've been the primary caregiver for your children, you probably have (more than) a little anxiety about how your child's father will be able to take care of the children on his own. If you combine general inexperience with some actual problem (alcoholism, a personality disorder, or general instability), you're probably a complete emotional wreck.

One of the first questions my clients with children ask is often, "How can I get supervised visitation?"

In most cases, I'm sorry to say, supervised visitation is not really the appropriate solution. If what you're dealing with is just merely an inexperienced father, no court would order supervised visitation. After all, no one gave you supervised visitation the first time you brought your baby home. You learned "on the job," and so will he.

If, on the other hand, what we're dealing with is a dad with serious problems, it's a possibility. Normally, supervised visitation is either agreed to by the other side, or ordered by a judge.

Now, remember, supervised visitation costs money. It's not a free service offered by the state. If you're asking him to commit to supervised visitation AND foot the bill, it's doubtful that he will agree. If, on the other hand, you suggest visitation supervised by, say, his parents, you may have more success. This is the kind of supervised visitation I see most often, because its more cost effective and usually helps to soothe mom's fears about dad being ill-equipped to deal with the challenges presented by being solely responsible for the well-being of living children.

Often, even when the GAL suggests supervised visitation, he or she will suggest supervision by a family member rather than a professional provider.

You're much more likely to get traction if you request supervision by a family member in most cases, unless your child's father has a serious problem.