What is supervised visitation in SC?
Although it is almost always in a child’s best interest to spend time with both of their natural parents, there are times when it is necessary to have someone supervise their visitation to ensure the child’s safety.
In this article, we will look at:
- The different types of visitation in SC,
- Why the family court would order supervised visitation,
- When supervised visitation is in a child’s best interest,
- How to ask the court for supervised visitation, and
- Whether supervised visitation is temporary or permanent.
Types of Child Visitation in SC
Several types of visitation can be ordered in SC, depending on the parents’ situations and the best interest of the child.
- Scheduled visitation: the most common scenario involves one parent having primary custody of the child while the other parent spends time with the child according to a set schedule, which usually involves the noncustodial parent taking the child every other weekend, every other holiday, special occasions, and for a set amount of time during winter and summer vacation.
- Reasonable visitation: in some cases, the parents can communicate, work with each other, and be flexible in working out visitation times that fit their schedules and their unique circumstances.
- Supervised visitation: when a child’s safety or well-being is threatened by the noncustodial parent, the court may order that visitation must be supervised by the custodial parent, another responsible adult, or a state agency.
- No visitation: although the court presumes that regular contact with both parents is in the child’s best interest, if the court finds that the noncustodial parent will cause emotional or physical harm to the child even if their visits are supervised, the court may deny visitation altogether.
Why Would the Family Court Order Supervised Visitation?
Why would the court order that a parent can only visit with their child if the visits are supervised?
When evidence is presented that spending unsupervised time with a parent could harm the child, the family court will order that the custodial parent, a relative, another responsible adult, or a state agency supervise the parent’s visits.
Some examples of reasons why a court may order supervised visitation include:
- Drug or alcohol abuse,
- A history of domestic violence,
- Other violent behavior committed by the noncustodial parent,
- The possibility that the noncustodial parent may attempt to kidnap the child,
- A history of child abuse, neglect, or sexual abuse by the parent,
- Mental illness or other disability that results in the parent’s inability to care for the child, or
- Any other circumstances that would result in harm to the child.
Is Supervised Visitation in the Best Interest of the Child?
The best interest of the child is always the court’s overarching concern.
If unsupervised visitation is safe, it should be ordered because it is almost always in a child’s best interest to spend quality time with and develop a relationship with their biological parents. This can be difficult if a chaperone is present.
If there is a danger to the child that can be avoided by supervision, the court may order supervised visitation. Although it is in the child’s best interest to avoid the danger presented by the parent, it is still in the child’s best interest to spend time with their natural parent whenever possible.
In extreme cases, where the danger to the child cannot be avoided by supervision, it is in the best interest of the child for the family court to deny visitation altogether.
How Do I Ask the Court for Supervised Visitation?
Supervised visitation can harm a child’s relationship with their parent, it should only be ordered when it is necessary, and it should never be requested out of anger or vindictiveness.
If you intend to ask the court for supervised visitation, you should first talk to your child custody lawyer about your concerns to determine 1) whether supervised visitation is necessary and in the child’s best interest, and 2) how to present your request for supervised visitation to the court.
Your attorney will help you to gather the evidence you will need to present your case to the family court, which may include witness affidavits and records showing:
- The noncustodial parents’ abuse, drug use, or violence,
- Arrests and convictions for domestic violence or drug abuse,
- Child protective service’s involvement with the parent and child,
- That the parent is homeless or does not have a safe location for visitation,
- The nature of the parent’s mental illness or disability, or
- Other reasons that visits should be supervised to ensure the child’s safety.
Is Supervised Visitation Permanent or Temporary?
Supervised visitation can be temporary or permanent, although the court is more likely to order temporary supervised visitation with the possibility of revisiting the issue or with a precondition that must be satisfied before the parent can have unsupervised visitation.
In some cases, the conditions that require supervision may improve over time – the parent may get clean and sober, and may, over time, demonstrate that they are ready for unsupervised visits with their child.
A parent who is homeless may recover, find work, and provide a safe environment to visit with their child. Whatever the circumstances, they might be remedied over time making supervised visitation unnecessary.
Whether an existing court order provides for supervised or unsupervised visitation, either parent can later ask the family court to modify the order when there has been a significant change in circumstances.
Questions About Supervised Visitation in SC?
If it is in your child’s best interest to only have supervised visitation with the noncustodial parent, or if there has been a change in circumstances sufficient to ask the court to modify an existing custody order, the SC child custody attorneys at Templeton, Mims & Ward may be able to help.