Family matters, particularly those involving children, can be deeply emotional and complex. Supervised visitation, a topic that can generate confusion and anxiety, is one such issue that may arise in family court. At our New Hampshire family law firm, we often encounter questions related to this subject, and we’re here to provide clarity and support.
What Is Supervised Visitation?
Supervised visitation refers to a legal arrangement where a parent is only allowed to visit their child under the watchful eye of an approved supervisor. This supervisor can be a professional, a family member, or a friend, depending on the court’s decision. The purpose of this arrangement is to ensure a safe and controlled environment for the child while maintaining the parent’s right to visitation.
Why Might Supervised Visitation Be Ordered?
There are several situations where supervised visitation might be ordered, each addressing the child’s safety and well-being:
- Allegations or Evidence of Abuse or Neglect: If the court has reasons to believe that the child might be at risk, it may order supervised visits. This decision often follows a thorough investigation.
- Substance Abuse Issues: Parents struggling with addiction may still have the right to see their child, but supervision ensures the child’s safety during visits.
- Mental Health Concerns: If mental health issues could potentially impact the child’s well-being, supervised visits might be considered necessary.
- Reestablishing a Relationship: When a parent has been absent from a child’s life, supervised visits can offer a gradual and structured way to rebuild that relationship.
- High Conflict between Parents: Sometimes, the tension between parents might lead to supervised visitation to minimize the child’s exposure to conflict.
The Process of Supervised Visitation
The process of establishing supervised visitation may involve several steps:
- Assessment: The court evaluates the family’s situation to determine if supervised visitation is necessary.
- Selection of a Supervisor: The court will decide who will supervise the visits, taking into consideration the child’s comfort and safety.
- Scheduling Visits: Visits are typically scheduled in a way that accommodates the child’s routine and the availability of the supervisor.
- Review and Modification: The court may periodically review the arrangement and make modifications if needed.
Where are the Supervision Centers?
At one point in time, there were more than a half-dozen supervision centers in New Hampshire. These centers are managed by a government or non-profit agency. Many of them are heavily subsidized so the parents, who are often indigent, pay little or nothing. They typically employ trained supervisors and security to monitor the visits. This type of setting is most beneficial when one of the parents has a history of abuse, negligence, major mental illness, substance misuse, or other behavior severely impacting their parenting ability. In some cases, a family or friend, even if well-meaning, is simply not equipped to manage the visits.
A supervision center’s set and strictly enforced times, dates, and length of visits, can be highly beneficial. The supervision center also provided neutral professionals who could log the nature of the visits and report to the court on the progress of the parent.
However, over the last ten years or so, due to a lack of funding, most, if not all, of the supervision centers in New Hampshire have closed. This has left a serious void as it often forces families to choose an inadequate supervisor, putting children at risk.
How Can Our Firm Help?
Our experienced family law firm can assist you in various ways:
- Understanding Your Unique Situation: We’ll take the time to understand your specific situation and provide personalized advice.
- Guiding You Through the Process: Navigating legal proceedings can be stressful; we’ll be by your side, explaining every step.
- Advocating for Your Rights: If you feel the supervised visitation order is unwarranted, we’ll present evidence and argue on your behalf.
- Offering Support and Resources: We offer more than just legal advice. We can connect you with counseling, support groups, and other resources.
Supervised visitation might feel like an unfair restriction, but it’s important to remember that the court’s primary concern is the child’s well-being. By understanding the reasons behind this decision and working with an experienced family law attorney, you can make the process more manageable.
At our firm, we are committed to assisting you with empathy and professionalism. Whether you’re facing a situation involving supervised visitation or any other family legal issue, we’re here to provide the support and guidance you need.
Contact us today for a free consultation, and let’s explore how we can work together to address your concerns and work towards the best possible outcome for you and your family. We believe in building trust and empowering our clients, and we look forward to partnering with you.