Custody proceedings can be contentious and emotional, especially when one spouse’s fitness as a parent is called into question. Minnesota courts typically advocate for “the best interest of the child” in custody determinations. There is a rebuttable presumption that maintaining relationships with both parents is in the child’s best interest.
However, sometimes a parent is awarded supervised visitation (visitation with a neutral third party present) instead of shared custody or unsupervised visitation. When might that happen, and what does it mean for the parent?
Sometimes it is not in the child’s best interest to be alone with one or both parents. This may be the case when a parent has severe mental illness, is currently addicted to drugs or alcohol, has a history of domestic violence or neglect or if they have threatened to kidnap the child. In some cases, supervised visitation is considered necessary when the child has never met that parent before, or is reintroduced after an extended separation.
If a court awards one parent supervised visitation, they typically impose a set of conditions on that parent. Sometimes family members are allowed to act as the neutral third party, while others may determine that a professional visitation supervision service is the best option. The third party must agree to the terms of the visitation and be able to speak the same language as the child. The parent with supervised visitation usually has a set number of hours per week to see their child.
Supervised visitation doesn’t necessarily last forever. For example, if a parent with an alcohol problem goes through rehabilitation and a court approves of their parental fitness, they may be granted unsupervised visitation or shared custody.
Because visitation and custody can have a significant impact on your child’s health and safety, it’s important to work with a family lawyer. Call the knowledgeable family lawyers at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. in St. Paul, MN for help with your custody and visitation issues.
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