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Supervised visits in New York are ordered by a county Family Court or Supreme Court when a visit with a non-custodial parent -- the parent who doesn't have custody -- could be physically or psychologically dangerous for the child. The number of requests for supervised visits has risen greatly in recent years, as more and more cases of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect flood the court system. If you worry that your child is at risk during visits with his non-custodial parent, you can petition the court for an order of custody and visitation. The court has the authority to order supervised visitation if it approves the petition.
In many cases when supervised visitation is ordered, a child has been in an environment involving domestic violence. In other cases, the non-custodial parent has physically, sexually or emotionally abused the child. The kids in these situations require a safe place to visit with the parent. According to research published by the "Family Court Review," a child's future well-being is significantly improved when he has an ongoing relationship with his non-custodial parent.
Some non-custodial parents have a history of addiction, violence or abuse. At a supervised visit, the non-custodial parent meets with the child under the supervision of a trained staff member or therapist. During a one-on-one visitation, the supervisor is present throughout the entire visit, observing and listening to the interaction and ensuring the child is safe. Sometimes, supervised visits are designed to directly deal with issues between the parent and child, and visit supervisors actively work to treat and improve the relationship.
Obtaining a Custody and Visitation Order
If you fear for the safety of your child when he interacts with his parent, or you know he is or has been abused physically or psychologically by his parent, you can petition the court for a custody or visitation order which includes the request for supervised visits. The Family Court in the county where you live has designated clerks to assist you with filling out the form and filing it.
Grounds for Supervised Visits
Since non-custodial parents generally have a right to visit with their kids, you must convince a Family Court judge that limitations, such as supervised visits or no visitation rights at all, are necessary. The court will consider a number of factors when determining whether to grant your petition. Such factors include evidence of violence or threats of violence against the child, emotional harm, a child's request to limit or deny visits, a non-custodial parent's mental illness or substance abuse, the emotional damage caused by visiting a parent in jail or a parent's threats to abduct the child.
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- New York State Unified Court System: Supervised Visitation Programs
- Center for Court Innovation: Supervised Visitation
- InMotionOnline: The Basics: Custody and Visitation in New York State
- Family Court Review: Raising the Bar: Why Supervised Visitation Providers Should Be Required to Meet Standards for Service Provision
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.