Brad and Angelina
I’m sure you’ve seen recently that Brad and Angelina have made strides in settling their parenting agreement. Angelina is maintaining primary custody of the children. Brad will have “therapeutic visits” with the kids. Basically, that amounts to “supervised visitation”. So, what does that mean for Brad and his future with the children? If this couple lived in our part of the country, here’s how that would play out.
Rebuilding and the Parenting Plan
Because there was an allegation of violence in the family by Brad, the parenting plan moving forward provides for Angelina to have the primary parenting and for Brad to have limited parenting time. Why is that? Those visits are designed to rebuild his relationship with the children. The visits may be short in duration but occur frequently. There will probably be a third party present to ensure that the children are safe and comfortable. Depending on the details of their individual agreement, this is the basic structure of that type of plan. Of course, the specifics of these plans differ depending on the persons and their situation.
This is actually a common type of plan. We call it “supervised” parenting time. For one reason or another, parenting time between one parent and the children is overseen by a third party. This may happen in cases of substance abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, etc. It can happen any time when one party has a valid basis that this is in the best interest of the child(ren). This may happen on a short term basis, while an investigation is pending, or on a long term basis, where there is significant damage that must be repaired before supervision can be removed.
What is a supervised visit?
Supervised visits occur regularly and with continuity. They are scheduled so that the child(ren) know(s) what to expect and when to expect it. The visits are best to occur weekly, or more often if the parties can make that possible, and initially, in short duration. The purpose of supervised visits is to maintain continuity between parent and child, develop (or repair) the relationship, and ensure the safety and/or comfort of the children. The supervisor is also available to report back to the Court if the visit does not go well or if something objectionable happens.
Who can supervise?
Supervisors range dependent on the case. Parties can use a state agency to supervise parenting. Other options include a therapist (often used only if the parties are actually receiving therapy or can pay privately for this option of supervision), the other parent (this does work in certain circumstances), friend, family member, or other supervisor. State agencies and therapists come with a cost. Friends or family may agree to supervise time but in most cases, only in the short term. Often the Court will assign almost any supervisor if both parties agree that the person is suitable. If the parties disagree, the Court decides who will supervise the visits.
A word of caution on this point, however. It may seem like a great idea to have your soon-to-be ex’s brother doing supervised visitation. After all, he’s the kids favorite relative. But what happens when the divorce is finalized? Will everyone still be on the same page? Will there be any hostility between the parties? Be sure to discuss all of this with your attorney prior to recommending family members.
What happens after supervised visitation?
If the visits go well, often the Court will expand the time frame or the frequency of the visits and/or remove the supervisor. The Court may be creative in its solution for expanding time but slowly, will make sure that things go well for the children and that they are safe and comfortable.
Brad is in a much better position than most people when it comes to supervised visits. He has the resources to always have someone present, if necessary, and a required supervisor is financially possible in his life. So, as the Brad & Angelina case unfolds, we will see if Brad starts to take the children without a supervisor and how that works out for him.
If you have questions about supervised parenting time, please contact me to discuss the issue.