Last Updated on August 14, 2023 by Turner Thornton
When parents decide to separate or divorce, the underlying reasons can sometimes lead a judge to mandate supervised visitation for the non-custodial parent. The court’s primary concern is always the child’s safety and well-being.
In this article, our experienced Fort Worth family law attorneys explain supervised visitation in Texas, when it is ordered, how it works, and whether a friend or family member can supervise visitation between a parent and a child. We also answer some frequently asked questions about supervised child visitation.
Court-Ordered Supervised Visitation in Texas
Supervised visitation in Texas is a court-ordered arrangement in which a non-custodial parent is only allowed to visit their child in the presence of a designated supervisor. This arrangement is typically implemented in cases where the court believes it is in the best interest of the child to have contact with the non-custodial parent but has concerns about the child’s safety, well-being, or the parent’s ability to provide appropriate care during the visitation.
The goal of supervised visitation is to maintain and support the parent-child relationship while prioritizing the health and safety of the child. Over time, if the non-custodial parent demonstrates consistent, responsible behavior, the court may consider modifying the visitation order to allow for less restrictive or unsupervised visits.
Reasons for Supervised Visitation in Texas
There are several reasons why a court may order supervised visitation for the non-custodial parent including:
Court-ordered supervised visitation may be necessary when there is a history of domestic violence, as it ensures the safety of the child and the non-offending parent. Supervised visitation allows the child to maintain a relationship with the parent who committed the violence, while also providing a controlled and secure environment where abuse is less likely to occur. During these visits, a neutral third party or a professional is present to monitor interactions and intervene if necessary.
Child Neglect or Abuse
When a parent has a history of child neglect or abuse, supervised visitation is essential to protect the child from further harm. The court prioritizes the child’s safety and well-being, and will only allow contact with the abusive parent under close supervision. This arrangement allows the parent to maintain a relationship with the child, while also ensuring that the child’s safety and emotional needs are met.
Parents struggling with substance abuse or addiction may pose a risk to their child’s safety and well-being. Supervised visitation can help protect the child from potential harm or exposure to drugs and alcohol. It also provides an opportunity for the parent to demonstrate their commitment to recovery and their desire to maintain a relationship with their child, while under the watchful eye of a supervisor.
Mental Health Issues
Parents with mental health issues may require supervised visitation to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. Depending on the severity of the mental health issue, a parent may not be able to provide appropriate care and support for the child. Supervised visitation allows the parent to maintain a relationship with the child, while ensuring that the child is not exposed to potentially harmful situations.
A parent with a criminal history may be required to have supervised visitation to protect the child from potential risks associated with the parent’s past behavior. The court may determine that the parent’s criminal record indicates a potential threat to the child, and supervised visitation can provide a safe and controlled environment for the child to interact with the parent.
Risk of Parental Kidnapping
In cases where there is a risk of parental kidnapping, supervised visitation can help prevent abduction attempts. The court may order supervised visitation if a parent has threatened or attempted to abduct the child in the past, or if there are concerns about the parent taking the child out of the country without consent. Supervised visitation provides a secure environment for the child and ensures that the visitation process is monitored and controlled.
Re-establishing a Relationship
In some cases, supervised visitation may be necessary to help re-establish a relationship between a parent and child after a long period of separation or estrangement. This arrangement allows the parent and child to rebuild trust and emotional connections in a safe and controlled environment, with the assistance of a neutral third party or professional.
Child’s Wishes (age 12 and older)
When a child is 12 years old or older, their wishes may be taken into consideration by the court when determining visitation arrangements. If a child expresses concerns about being alone with a parent, or if they have a strong preference for supervised visitation, the court may take this into account and order supervised visitation to ensure the child’s comfort and safety during the visitation process.
Supervised Visitation Locations and Duration
Visits between the child and non-custodial parent usually take place in a safe, neutral environment, such as a supervised visitation center, the home of an approved supervisor, or another location deemed appropriate by the court. The location must also adhere to the court’s instructions and safety guidelines. For example, if the non-custodial parent has a history of alcohol abuse, the judge may order that the location of the supervised visitation must not contain alcohol.
The length of each supervised visit is also determined by the court and can range from one hour to several hours and can occur as often as once or twice a week. The duration and frequency of the visits are determined by the court order and can be modified as needed based on the child’s best interests and the non-custodial parent’s progress. Visits may be monitored through video or audio recordings, depending on the court’s order.
In a supervised visitation arrangement, the third-party supervisor can be a professional, such as a social worker or a licensed counselor, or a non-professional, like a trusted family member or friend who is approved by the court. The supervisor’s role is to ensure the child’s safety and well-being during the visit and to intervene if necessary.
Visitation that is supervised by family members or friends can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, having a friend or family member as a supervisor can provide a more comfortable and familiar environment for the child. On the other hand, it can be difficult for the supervisor to remain neutral and objective during the visit – or intervene and report negative behaviors to the court.
How Does Supervised Visitation in Texas Work?
A typical supervised visitation day in Texas involves the non-custodial parent arriving at the designated location, usually a visitation center or neutral third party’s residence, at the scheduled time.
Before the visitation, the supervisor will conduct a brief orientation, explaining the rules and expectations for the visitation. They may also ask the non-custodial parent or caregiver to sign a document agreeing to the terms of the visitation and acknowledging that they understand the rules.
Once the visitation begins, the supervisor will observe the interaction between the non-custodial parent or caregiver and the child, ensuring that the child’s safety and well-being are not compromised. The supervisor may intervene if they feel that the child is in danger or if the non-custodial parent or caregiver is not following the rules.
During the visitation, the non-custodial parent or caregiver may engage in activities with the child, such as playing games or doing arts and crafts. The supervisor may also provide suggestions for activities to help facilitate positive interaction between the non-custodial parent or caregiver and the child.
After the visitation, the supervisor may provide feedback to the non-custodial parent or caregiver on their interaction with the child and offer suggestions for improving the quality of their time together.
It is important to note that the specifics of a supervised visitation day may vary depending on the individual circumstances of the case and the specific requirements of the court order. However, the overall goal is to ensure that the child’s safety and well-being are protected while allowing the non-custodial parent or caregiver to maintain a relationship with the child.
Changing from Supervised to Unsupervised Visitation
If you are a parent who has been ordered to have supervised visitation in Texas and you would like to change to unsupervised visitation, you will need to file a motion with the court. The court will then schedule a hearing to consider your request. In order to be successful, you will need to demonstrate that the circumstances that led to the initial order for supervised visitation no longer exist or have been remedied and provide evidence of your progress and ability to parent safely. The court will consider several factors when making a decision, including:
- The best interests of the child
- The reason for the initial order of supervised visitation
- The non-custodial parent’s compliance with the visitation order
- Any changes in circumstances since the initial order
- Whether the non-custodial parent has completed any recommended counseling or treatment programs
- The results of any recent visits with the child
The court may also order a home study to assess the safety and suitability of the non-custodial parent’s home. After reviewing all evidence, the court will decide whether to allow unsupervised visitation.
It is important to remember that supervised visitation in Texas is designed to protect the child’s safety and well-being during visits, not as punishment for the non-custodial parent or caregiver. Supervised visitation arrangements are not meant to be permanent, but they can also last for several years depending on the circumstances. With adequate proof of your commitment and ability to parent responsibly, you may eventually be granted unsupervised visitation.
If you are ready to petition the court from supervised to unsupervised visitation, it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney. An attorney can help you prepare your case and ensure that all necessary documents are filed with the court. They can also provide important advice and guidance throughout the process. With their help, you may be able to successfully transition from supervised to unsupervised visitation and create a stronger relationship with your child.
We Can Help With Supervised Visitation.
There is nothing more important than our children. At Varghese Summersett Family Law Group, we understand how emotionally challenging child custody and visitation matters can be. If you are seeking supervised visitation, or hope to transition from supervised to unsupervised visitation, we can help.
Our team has extensive experience handling complex supervised visitation matters. We are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the legal system and achieve the best possible outcome for themselves and their children. Our Fort Worth family law attorneys are ready to help you find a positive solution that is in your child’s best interests. Call (817) 900-3220 today to schedule a consultation.
FAQs About Supervised Child Visitation in Texas
Yes, supervised visitation can be requested by either parent or ordered by a court on its own motion. If you believe that supervised visitation is necessary to protect your child’s safety or well-being, you should consult with a family law attorney. Your attorney can file a petition with the court and present evidence to show why supervised visitation is necessary to protect your child.
If supervised visitation has been ordered, there will likely be costs associated with it, especially if the court orders a professional supervisor to oversee the visits. The cost of supervised visitation varies depending on the provider and location. Typically, the cost ranges from $40 to $100 per hour. Some providers also offer sliding scale fees based on income. Their fees may be paid by the non-custodial parent or caregiver or shared between the parties.
In Texas, a friend or family member may be approved by the court to supervise visitation if they meet certain requirements. These requirements may include undergoing a background check, completing training on how to supervise visitation, and being able to ensure the safety and well-being of the child during the visitation.
It depends on the specific circumstances of the case and the agreement between the parties involved. If a friend or family is designated as the supervisor by the court, they may be required to be compensated for their time and services. The court may set a reasonable fee for the supervisor’s services, which may be paid by the non-custodial parent or caregiver or shared between the parties.
Alternatively, a friend or family member may choose to provide their service for free. It is important to note that the arrangement should be agreed upon and documented to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings in the future.
Yes, it is possible to request a modification of a supervised visitation order. However, before that can happen, the non-custodial parent must demonstrate to the court that they are no longer a risk to the child’s safety or well-being. This can be a complex legal process, and it is advisable to work with an experienced family law attorney.
The duration of supervised visitation depends on the court order. It can range from a few months to several years. The court will review the case periodically to determine if supervised visitation is still necessary or needs to be modified.
Yes, in Texas, you still have to pay child support even if you only have supervised visitation. Child support and visitation are considered separate issues, and the obligation to financially support your child remains regardless of the visitation arrangements.
Whether you are a parent who wants supervised visitation for the other parent, or a parent who wants off of supervised visitation, it’s essential to have an experienced family law attorney in your corner. Your attorney will provide valuable guidance and representation in supervised visitation cases. They can help you understand your legal rights and options and will advocate on your behalf in court. Additionally, an attorney can help ensure that your child’s safety and well-being are protected throughout the legal process.