Supervised vs. Unsupervised Visitation
Supervised visitation is rarely ordered by the Court. A parent advocating that supervised visitation is necessary for the other parent better have an extremely good reason. The parent that wants supervised visitation will have the burden of proof, and it will be a high burden. Oftentimes I hear a parent, usually a mother, say, “The child does not know the other parent.” I always say, “Well, how is the other parent supposed to get to know the child without getting to exercise visitation?” Good reasons for requesting supervised visitation might include issues such as: alcoholism, drug addiction, criminal activity, child abuse or neglect, etc. Please be advised that the court does not provide the supervision of the visitation. That falls to the parties to select a supervisor and to pay for it if there is any cost associated with the supervision of the visitation.
Transportation Arrangements and Where the Parent’s Live
Both parents should try to be considerate to the other parent and the children when setting up an exchange location for visitation. Picking up and dropping off at the other parent’s home is ideal unless there has been a history of domestic violence. In that case, a public place or even a police department should be considered as an exchange location. If the parents live far apart or even in separate states, then the parents should usually meet in the middle at the half-way point between their homes. In some instances, the parties share the long distance transportation expenses. In other cases, one parent will pay all or the majority of the long distance transportation costs. If flights are necessary, then the child’s age becomes a factor as well as the high cost of flying.
Special Provisions: No Alcohol, Drugs, Paramours Overnight, Etc.
Sometimes parents want to prevent the other parent from acting out in a bad way in front of the child. Therefore, they will ask their attorney to request mutual restraining orders which restrain and enjoin both parties from engaging in certain activities when the children are present. Examples of special provisions include but are not limited to the following: no alcohol, no drugs, and no members of the opposite sex overnight.
Decision Making: Day to Day and Major Decisions
Generally, when one parent has the child in their care, then that parent makes the basic day to day decisions for the child. However, major decision making is usually specifically addressed in the permanent parenting plan. Major decisions regarding education, non-emergency healthcare, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities can be made by the mother, by the father, or jointly. In my experience, parents tend to put too much emphasis on who gets to make these decisions. Generally, it is better to work together and make major decisions jointly. However, sometimes the parents do not get along well enough and do not work together well enough for joint decision making to work. In those cases, then major decision making may be an issue that is worth litigating in court. With difficult ex-spouses the major decision making can be abused and used against the other spouse.
Be sure to check back next week for Part 3. Also, our office will be posting corresponding videos that mirror this information, but that will include additional information. We hope you find all of this information helpful to you during a difficult time.