Family court judges generally want children of divorced parents to spend time and build their relationship with both parents. Unfortunately, sometimes there are concerns that it's not safe -- physically and/or psychologically -- for children to be alone in the care of a parent.
A mom or dad may have a history of substance abuse, for example, which made them neglectful of their kids or even endangered them. In some cases, visitation must be supervised while allegations of substance abuse, neglect or other problematic behavior are investigated.
If you're the custodial parent of your children and a judge has ordered supervised visitation for your co-parent, you likely have some concerns. You may feel that your co-parent is a bad influence on your children and shouldn't be allowed to see them at all. You may fear that your co-parent won't abide by the terms of the visitation order and further disappoint your kids.
If a judge has approved supervised visitation, you have a responsibility to do your part to make those visits as enjoyable as possible for your kids. It's essential that you -- like your co-parent -- adhere to the terms that have been set.
For you, that means getting your kids to the designated visitation site as scheduled. Often, supervised visitations take place in a visitation center where multiple parents and kids spend time together, monitored by professionals.
It's essential for custodial parents to prepare their children for these visits. It helps if kids know the schedule and can see the visits on a calendar well in advance. This gives them a sense of routine and control.
Let your kids know what they can anticipate. Explain that there will be adults there to help them if they need anything. Tell them what time you'll be picking them up.
Help your kids get ready for the visits by letting them choose a game they want to play with their parent or book they want to read with them. Be enthusiastic about the visit, whether you are or not. After each visit, let your children share as little or as much as they want, but don't pressure them to talk.
If you have concerns about anything your kids tell you about these visits, talk with the people who are monitoring them. If you believe changes to the supervised visitation plan are in your children's best interests, talk with your attorney.