Breaking Down Supervised Visitation in Seattle

Visitation and custody issues are decided based on what is in the best interests of the child. In a contested case, the court will listen to the evidence presented and then enter a parenting plan that they believe will best meet the child’s needs, including their safety and general welfare. While supervised visitation for a parent may seem extreme, it is important to understand what it specifically means for you and your child. A Seattle visitation lawyer can help you understand your options and hopefully reach a visitation arrangement that works for everyone. 

Child participating in supervised visitation.

When Supervised Visitation May Be Ordered

Typically, one parent will make a formal request to the court that the other parent’s time with the child be supervised. While the request is sometimes made for retaliatory or other inappropriate reasons, there are situations where there is a legitimate need for supervised visitation. These situations can include the following: 

  • There is a history of severe mental illness or emotional instability
  • There is a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse
  • There is a threat of the child being abducted
  • There is a history of substance abuse
  • The parent does not have adequate parenting skills
  • The child does not have a substantial emotional relationship with the parent 

It is important to understand that any one of these issues does not necessarily mean that supervised visitation will be ordered. Ultimately, if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide whether supervised visitation is in the child’s best interests after reviewing all of the evidence and listening to any pertinent testimony.  Whichever side you may be on, a Seattle visitation lawyer can advocate for your rights and what you believe to be in the best interests of your child.   

There Are Different Types of Supervised Visitation

Supervised visitation isn’t necessarily an all-or-nothing arrangement. Instead, there are varying degrees of supervision that may be imposed by the court, depending upon what the court believes would be appropriate in your case. These arrangements typically vary by who is providing the supervision and where the visit is occurring.  The most common supervised visitation arrangements include the following: 

  • Non-professional third parties. Visitation supervised by a third party that the parents know and trust is the most common type of supervised visitation. This can include a family member, a close family friend, or a teacher or child care provider. This arrangement is often ideal because it does not cost anything, and it typically takes place in an environment familiar to the child. 
  • A child visitation professional. In cases involving allegations of substance abuse or any kind of violence, the court often orders that visitation be supervised by a professional supervisor. In addition, visitation in these situations may be required to take place at a neutral location. 
  • The custodial parent. In rare cases, the court may determine that visitation should occur in the presence of the custodial parent. This is more common when the child is an infant or has special needs such that removing them from the presence of the custodial parent could be unnecessarily disruptive to the child’s comfort and sense of security. 

The right visitation arrangement will depend on the circumstances unique to your case. A Seattle visitation lawyer can help you find the right visitation arrangement for your child.  

Temporary Supervised Visitation

The court can order supervised visitation on a temporary or permanent basis. Temporary supervised visitation may be ordered in situations where the court believes that the parent simply needs time to resolve whatever issues are making supervised visitation appropriate. That said, the parent may be required to meet certain requirements in order to transition to unsupervised visitation and demonstrate to the court that all of those requirements have been met. For example, they may need to show proof of the following: 

  • That they have successfully completed a drug or alcohol treatment program
  • That they are no longer using drugs or alcohol when that has been an issue in the past
  • That they are actively receiving mental health counseling/treatment
  • That they have completed an anger management program
  • That they have moved out of an environment that is inappropriate for children

Temporary supervised visitation may also be ordered in situations where the court feels that the allegations supporting the request for supervised visitation must be thoroughly investigated before a final decision can be made. 

Permanent Supervised Visitation

Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, the court may order permanent supervised visitation. This sounds drastic, but what it really means is that the visitation order will remain in place until it is amended. In order to amend the order, however, one or both of the parents have to file a motion with the court requesting that it be changed. 

For the parent who is subject to supervised visitation, they will have to demonstrate to the court that their circumstances have changed to the extent that supervision is no longer necessary. This typically requires proof as discussed above – documentation that they have completed counseling, drug treatment, or whatever other steps they have taken to address the reasons why supervised visitation was ordered by the court. 

Requesting that a permanent supervised visitation order be lifted raises a number of important issues for both parents and the child. A Seattle visitation lawyer can help you understand what it means and help you understand your options. 

Talk to a Seattle Visitation Lawyer Today

Cases where supervised visitation may be appropriate are often complex and involve difficult legal issues. At Seattle Divorce Services, we help our clients navigate custody and visitation issues with compassion and dedication. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact us today at 206-784-3049 to schedule an appointment.