What is the definition of supervised visitation in Massachusetts?
Supervised visitation, or parenting time, is when the non-custodial parent’s time with their child takes place in the presence of someone else. This supervised visitation monitor is there to ensure the safety of your children. Such visitation comes about when there is a question about the fitness of the parent. Usually this arises from allegations of:
- Substance abuse;
- Abuse of the child; or,
- Domestic violence.
How supervised visitation works in Massachusetts
A visitation monitor is approved by the court. It can be a friend or relative. It can also be someone you don’t know, such as a social worker. Visits take place at a court-approved location. That location can be:
- Someone’s home;
- A public place; or,
- A family visitation center.
The visiting parent is allowed to spend time with their child under the watchful eye of the visitation monitor. The purpose is to allow the visiting parent to have contact with their child in a safe and controlled environment. That way, the child is safe and able to form a bond with the parent.
Can we agree to supervised visitation in an uncontested divorce in Massachusetts?
In a Massachusetts uncontested divorce you can agree to have visitation or parenting-time supervised. Uncontested divorces gives you and your spouse a great deal of flexibility when coming to an agreement. You must both agree to supervised visitation. Supervised visitation is not common in uncontested divorces, but it is possible.
Who can be a visitation monitor in Massachusetts?
No special training is necessary to become a visitation monitor. It can be a professional such as a social worker or it can be a friend or family member. Being a monitor is an important position and must be approved by the court. Among other qualifications, the person must:
- Be over 21 years of age;
- Pass a background check;
- Have the ability to intervene, if necessary, and,
- Not have a conflict of interest (such as being financially dependent on the supervised parent).
How long does supervised visitation last in Massachusetts?
There is no hard and fast rule as to how long supervised visitation will last. It’s determined on a case-by-case basis. Going from supervised to unsupervised visitation is possible. It’s always up to the discretion of the judge. They have to be satisfied that the supervised parent is not a danger to their child. The supervision will be reviewed by the court on an on-going basis. The judge may also want to see that the supervised parent is showing progress by:
- Attending every visitation opportunity;
- Remaining drug and alcohol free;
- Completing designated programs; and,
- Maintaining employment.
Who pays for supervised visitation in Massachusetts?
If you’re using the services of a professional, they have to be paid. At some facilities, there is an intake process. Both parties must pay for the intake. After that, the supervised party pays for the service. There is an hourly charge for the visits. Many facilities use a sliding scale when setting their fees. It is often in the range of $15-$75 per hour.
Supervised visitation violations in Massachusetts
When you have supervised visitation, you’re being watched closely. It’s extremely important to follow the supervised visitation guidelines. The judge will monitor your progress.
If you’re not following the rules, you’ll be punished. Among other things, you could:
- Lose the opportunity to have a family member be the monitor;
- Have your visitation time cut; or
- Lose visitation altogether.
Supervised visitation is not ideal. You may feel like you shouldn’t have to be supervised while spending time with your child. But your child’s safety is the most important consideration for the court. If there are allegations of abuse of any kind, a court may order supervised visitation. This supervision doesn’t have to last forever. You can earn unsupervised visits by convincing the court you’re not a danger to your child. If you have the opportunity for visits, even supervised, you should take advantage of that. Show up for all your visits; establish a bond with your child; and, fulfill the court’s requirements. If you do so, you and your child can have a bright future together.