Under normal circumstances, the court desires to grant both parents shared custody in a child custody proceeding. Shared custody affords the child to have equal and continuous contact with both parents, which usually is the safest and healthiest arrangement for the child.
However, if one parent poses a risk to the health and welfare of the child, the other parent may petition the court for supervised visitation. Supervised visitation is a child visitation arrangement, which requires a court-appointed or approved person to monitor the parent’s interaction with the child.
Supervised visitation is appropriate only when one parent poses a danger to the child. For example, the parent might have a history of domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, or abandonment of the child.
Should a parent seek supervised visitation, this parent generally has a genuine fear that his or her child is at risk or in danger with the other parent. Because of potential danger to the child, it is highly recommended that one consult an experienced attorney before pursuing supervised visitation. An experienced child custody attorney will guide you through the process of seeking supervised visitation.
Chester County Domestic Violence and Child Custody Attorney
The welfare and safety of the child is the paramount consideration of any parent. Trust the experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices when pursuing supervised visitation. The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices will use their extensive experience in child custody cases to achieve the best result for you and your child.
Call (610) 692-8700 for a confidential consultation. You can meet one-on-one with a with a dedicated Pennsylvania child custody lawyer or send an online message for a free consultation so we can act as soon as possible. We are based in West Chester PA and serve clients throughout Chester County, Lancaster County and suburban Philadelphia including West Chester, Kennett Square, Oxford, Avondale, Landenberg, West Grove, Paoli, Malvern, Downingtown, Coatesville, Exton, Parkesburg, Berwyn and Devon. We have convenient meeting locations in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, and Radnor. Our family lawyers serve those with immediate legal needs in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County and Lancaster County.
Pennsylvania Supervised Visitation Resource Center
- What is supervised visitation?
- Can the supervised visitation order be modified or terminated?
- Will the court deny visitation to a parent?
- Where can I learn more about Supervised Visitation?
Supervised visitation, also referred to as supervised physical custody, is defined in 23 Pa. C.S.§5322 as custodial time during which an agency or an adult designated by the court or agreed upon by the parties monitors the interaction between the child and the individual with those rights.
The court may determine supervised visitation is appropriate if one parent poses a danger to the child. Common reasons the court may order supervised visitation include:
- History of domestic violence;
- Parent poses a risk of child abduction;
- History of drug or alcohol abuse; or
- History of abandoning the child (even with other parent) for extended periods.
Like in any child custody proceeding, the court will only grant supervised visitation if it is determined to be in the best interests of the child. The court will consider several factors, including the physical, emotional, and mental safety of the child, whether the parent poses a danger to the child, and whether the parent imposes sufficient safeguards for the safety of the child. Depending on the age of the child, the court may also consider the desires of the child when granting supervised visitation.
Under supervised visitation, the court will require visitation to occur at a specified location and/or in the presence of a court appointed person. The court may require visitation to occur at a specific Pennsylvania Department of Human Services location, a designated supervision facility, or in the presence of a family member. The court’s designation varies based on the circumstances.
Customarily, supervised visitation orders are only temporary—generally upon the satisfaction of certain conditions, including a psychological review or report of the parent and/or child by a licensed psychiatrist or proof of rehabilitation from alcohol, drugs, or violence.
However, based on the circumstances supervised visitation may be shortened or lengthened. Generally, a non-custodial parent or the parent requiring the supervised visits may petition the court to terminate the supervised visitation or change the conditions under which supervision occurs upon showing a change in circumstances or conduct. For example, the non-custodial parent can show completion of rehabilitation courses or counseling, the current visitation arrangement has been going well, and the custodial parent will agree to the modification or termination of supervised visitation.
On the other hand, supervised visitation may be lengthened upon showing that the non-custodial parent still poses a danger or risk to the child. Whether the parent continues to pose a risk or danger can be shown through a pattern of missed or prematurely ended supervised visits, failure to comply with court ordered counseling, or other dangerous behavior.
Pennsylvania courts prefer to order supervised visitation rather than deny visitation altogether. It is widely accepted that it is in the best interests of the child to have some physical contact with both parents, even if it is in a supervised and controlled environment.
While there are no cases in which Pennsylvania courts have out right denied a parent visitation, it is possible (although rare) that the court may grant a temporary order with certain conditions that will allow the child to not visit a particular parent.
The court in In re J.S., 3583 EDA 2014 granted a temporary child visitation order which would allow the parent to visit his child under supervised visitation at the discretion of the thirteen year old minor child. The facts in this case were particularly extreme.
The Department of Human Services (DHS) determined the father’s home, which the minor child was previously living, was in a deplorable condition and not appropriate for a child. The home was extremely dirty, dangerous conditions existed on each floor of the home, and the paternal grandmother, who lived in the home, insisted on bathing the thirteen year old boy. The child testified that he did not want to live or visit with his father. The court determined the child was of an appropriate and competent age to determine which parent he wanted to live and visit.
Even in this extreme case, the court allowed this “de facto” denial of visitation rights temporarily. Supervised visitation would be compelled at a later time if recommended by the child’s psychiatrist. Under less extreme circumstances, the court would rather grant supervised custody than eliminate a parent’s right to visitation.
Pennsylvania Department of Human Services: Pennsylvania Department of Human Services provides resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To report suspected child abuse or neglect contact the Pennsylvania State Hotline at (215) 683-6100 or (800) 932-0313.
Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania: Prevent Child Abuse Pennsylvania is the Pennsylvania State chapter of the organization, American Academy of Pediatrics—an organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. This organization collaborates with local and state efforts to raise awareness and prevention of child abuse.
Keep Kids Safe Pennsylvania: Keep Kids Safe PA is a local organization that provides resources for victims of child abuse and those who suspect a child they know is suffering abuse. The website provides answers to frequently asked questions about child abuse, organizations to which to report abuse, and child abuse clearance information.
Supervised Visitation Attorney in Pennsylvania
Should you suspect or fear the other parent poses a risk or danger to the welfare of your child, contact the attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610) 692-8700 for a confidential consultation. The experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can thoroughly discuss your case and provide the best options based on your unique circumstances. The team of attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices have significant experience in supervised visitation arrangements and child custody.
The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices work to defend the rights of men throughout West Chester, Downingtown, Coatesville, Lancaster, Lititz, Ephrata, Exton, Landenberg, Villanova, King of Prussia, Media, Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. Call us today at Ciccarelli Law Offices or send an online message for a free consultation.