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How To Navigate Supervised Visitation


There are a number of reasons why a court may order supervised visitation. In all of these cases, the parent will not have custody of the child, but merely visitation rights. Custody allows the parent to make key decisions on behalf of the child, such as educational decisions and health care decisions. Nonetheless, the Pennsylvania courts assume that it is always in the best interests of the child to have both parents in their life so long as the parent is making a good-faith effort to have a real relationship with the child and the parent is not a danger to the child. Supervised visitation is one way for the court to test the waters. While most parents who are forced into this situation are resentful, it is an opportunity for both parent and child to get a feel for each other and build a relationship.

Often, supervised visitations are conducted over a period of months. At the end of the process, the parent may be able to get unsupervised visitations with their child. So, the goal is to prove to the court-ordered social worker that you are capable of interacting with the child in a way that is safe and nurturing.

When is supervised visitation necessary? 

Timing is everything. In cases where a parent has a current drug problem or is otherwise unsafe to be around the children, the court will deny custody. The parent can then petition the court for visitation rights. The court presumes that having two well parents in the child’s life is preferable to having only one well parent. However, having one well parent is preferable to having one unwell parent. So, the court wants to watch the interactions between the parent and the child to determine if the children are safe with the parent. Drug addiction is one reason why a court may order supervised visitation. However, drug addiction must be impacting the parent’s life currently as opposed to in the past. You can’t just bring up your former spouse’s acid trip in college to prevent them from getting custody of their children.

Challenges for parents seeking visitation 

Parents who have current drug problems, are incarcerated or have otherwise abandoned their children, will need to prove to the court that they are well enough to have unsupervised contact with their children. Ultimately, the goal of the parent is to prove to the court that their children are safe with them. If you were a helpless child, you would hope that someone would do the same for you. In most cases, this means petitioning the court to change an existing order. This can take months, but for parents who have not been in their children’s lives for a while, it will likely be necessary. In most cases, the social worker takes some notes, which causes the parent stress, but eventually signs off on visitation rights.

Talk to a Pennsylvania Child Custody Lawyer Today 

Pennsylvania divorce lawyer Lauren H. Kane can help estranged parents gain visitation rights to their children. Call today and we can begin discussing what to do next.

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