Supervised Visitation in Florida
When a parents’ separation or divorce is complicated by a history of physical or sexual abuse, intimate partner violence or substance abuse, the family court might order supervised visitation between a child and parent. The Clearinghouse on Supervised Visitation, funded by Florida’s Department of Children and Families, serves as a source of information, training and support for all parties involved in the facilitation of supervised visitation.
In determining what is in the best interest of your child, your family attorney or the judge overseeing your divorce might raise the issue of supervised visitation with both the custodial and non-custodial parent. The Florida Supreme Court issues guidelines for minimum standards in supervised visitation. Some of the issues that need to be considered include:
- An agreement — Both parents meet with the supervisor to create an agreement. The agreement includes specific details of time, location and duration of each visit, including a plan for transporting the child to and from visits. The agreement can also include consequences, should one parent not conform to the terms of the agreement.
- A location — Visits can take place at a mutually agreed-upon place. The location should be child-friendly, accessible to both parents and have a protected area in case of inclement weather. The location can be changed only with prior agreement of both parents and notification of supervisor.
- A supervisor — The State of Florida provides extensive training for supervisors. While there are social workers and psychologists who serve as supervisors, these qualifications are not necessary in most cases. If both parents agree, a family friend who is already familiar to the child, and is willing to receive training, can serve as supervisor.
- Therapeutic intervention — In some cases, visitation with a non-custodial parent might cause stress to the child. In the event that a supervisor reports that these visits are disruptive, the court might order therapeutic intervention during visits. If the court determines visitation is not in the child’s best interest, it can be canceled altogether.
When the circumstances of your divorce suggest that supervised visitation might be appropriate for your family, consult a savvy, compassionate family law attorney to plan your next steps.