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Would A Medical Condition Be Grounds For Granting Supervised Visitation?

June 30, 2018

When a couple decides to seek a divorce, one of the most complex and at times frustrating aspects of working out a divorce agreement is making arrangements for custody and visitation. While in most cases couples ultimately decide to opt for joint custody or have one parent have sole custody while granting visitation rights to the non-custodial parent, there are times when the custodial parent will request supervised visitations. When this happens, many factors suddenly come into play. In most instances, the court will want to know the exact circumstances that have made the custodial parent feel this specific type of visitation is necessary. For some parents, their reasoning comes down to medical conditions from which their child may be suffering.

Specifics of Supervised Visitation
For many couples in the process of divorcing, they are often unaware of just what supervised visitation entails. Generally, it is used when one parent feels the welfare of their child may be put at risk if unsupervised visitations are granted to the other parent. For example, if the other parent has a documented problem with drug or alcohol abuse, has exhibited violent tendencies toward the child, or has even made statements indicating they may abduct the child, the court may grant a request for supervised visitation. In some cases, a parent may use a child’s medical condition as a reason to request supervised visitations. For example, if the child suffers from seizures and requires medication, the custodial parent may want a third-party present who is capable of providing medical assistance if needed, such as a social worker or nurse.

Supervised Visitation for Medical Reasons
While the court will always seek to do what is in the best interest of the child, most cases of supervised visitation do not happen due to medical conditions. In these instances, the court may suggest the non-custodial parent meet with the child’s doctor or a nurse to be trained on how to administer medication and other things that may arise during a visit. However, because supervised visitation is a situation where so many additional arrangements have to be made regarding coordinating individual schedules, arranging for a neutral place to meet, and other factors, the court will most often try to avoid this if at all possible. However, it’s important to note that if it can be proven to the court that the non-custodial parent has been negligent in the past regarding giving the child medication or proper medical care, supervised visitation may be used, especially if the court feels the child’s health would be put at risk otherwise.

Forging an Agreement for Supervised Visitation
If you choose to pursue a request for supervised visitation, be prepared for your ex-spouse to put up quite a fight. Most of the time, the non-custodial parent will view this type of request as a way for the custodial parent to remove them from their child’s life as much as possible, even if that is not the case. Along with this, the court will closely examine the reasons being given for the request, since it may want to make sure it is not being done simply in an attempt to punish the other parent. Therefore, when making this type of request, always have the evidence needed to back up any claims you are making, since the court will likely grant this request only as a last resort.

Nullifying a Supervised Visitation Agreement
Even if a supervised visitation request is granted, remember that it can be nullified at any time by the court. This will be done if the non-custodial parent can provide evidence showing this agreement is no longer necessary, such as if they have completed drug or alcohol treatment programs, or have completed parenting skills classes and have been cleared by social workers or others to have normal visitation rights with their child. Since this type of agreement is viewed by the court as the most restrictive type of custody arrangement, it will do everything possible to convince both parents to work out another arrangement.

Long-Absent Parents and Supervised Visitation
If a parent has been out of a child’s life for several years, you will probably have a much better chance of getting a request for supervised visitation granted, especially if a serious medical condition of the child’s is involved. In these cases, the long-absent parent will for all practical purposes be a total stranger, so building a relationship with their child may take awhile. This, coupled with needing to have a thorough understanding of the child’s medical condition and needs, may prompt the court to begin with supervised visitation for several months or perhaps a year, then reevaluate the situation to see if new custody arrangements should be made.

Consult an Attorney
If you are a parent seeking to make a request for supervised visitation, always work closely with a family law attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in this area. By doing so, they can evaluate your request in an objective manner, and then develop a legal strategy to present to the court as to why the request should be granted. Since these requests are usually an uphill fight, rely on your attorney’s advice throughout the process. In doing so, not only will your legal rights as a parent be protected from start to finish, but you will also know the welfare of your child will also be a top priority.

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