One of the biggest concerns for families, where the parents are either separated or divorced, is the custody of the children. In some cases, one parent may be granted full custody, while the other parent is limited to supervised access, or visitation. When this becomes an issue, it’s important to understand what this means and how it will affect the family.

When Does a Judge Limit a Parent to Supervised Access?

The goal of the family court system is to keep families together as much as possible, unless it will interfere with the welfare of the child. This means parents will usually be granted shared custody, unless there are reasons to limit one parent’s access to the child. The reasons for limiting a parent to supervised access will usually have to do with the potential risk to the child’s wellbeing.

Usually, a parent may be restricted to supervised visitation, if he, or she, has exhibited a history of domestic violence. This can include committing acts of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse against the child, or against the other parent. Similarly, a parent, who suffers from mental illness and may harm the child as a result, may be granted restricted access to the child.

Some custody battles become very emotional and one parent may become afraid that he, or she, won’t be granted custody. If that parent abducts the child, as a result, that will likely harm the chances for partial custody and restrict the individual’s access to the child. Conversely, a parent, who has been neglectful or absent from the child’s life, may also be restricted to supervised visits.

Is Supervised Access Permanent?

When a judge issues an order for supervised access, it can either be a temporary order with a predetermined expiration date, or it can be enforced indefinitely. In some cases, the parent may be required to complete an act, such as attending counseling, before the judge will lift the order. Once the counseling has been completing, the parent can issue a petition, which requests that the judge restore shared custody.

When an issue of child abuse is behind the order for supervised access, the order remains in effect throughout the investigation. If the allegations are found to be true, the judge will most likely make supervised access a more permanent restriction. In this case, it’s unlikely that the judge will restore shared custody, or permit unsupervised visits.

The goal of the family courts is to do what’s best for the children. While it’s preferable to grant shared custody and maintain a sense of family for the children, that’s not always possible. Supervised access allows the parent to remain in the child’s life, while limiting the likelihood of endangering the child. It’s the best way to ensure the child’s safety and to keep families from falling completely apart.