Supervised visitation can be an essential tool to protect a child's well-being in Pennsylvania even while preserving the relationship with a troubled or complicated parent. Most family courts prefer joint custody, which is when both parents share roughly equal time with the children. If this is not possible, regular and extensive visitation can also foster the relationship with the noncustodial parent. In some cases, however, a parent's issues are more serious. There may be allegations of child abuse or domestic violence. Some parents may also be struggling with an addiction or have an untreated mental illness that leaves them unable to care for the child properly.
Supervised visitation can take place in the presence of a professional, like a counselor or social worker, or a designated family member. In the court order for this type of visitation, the family court judge will designate who is responsible for supervising the visits. Depending on the circumstances, visitation may take place in the parent's home or in a neutral location such as a child care center.
The length of time that supervised visitation is in place may vary also according to the situation. It might be ordered initially while reports of abuse or domestic violence are under investigation, and the final outcome of that investigation may be reflected in a child custody decision. In other cases, parents can move toward traditional visitation by showing that they are able to properly care for the child. For example, addicted parents could show that they have completed drug rehabilitation.
Supervised visitation is a way of protecting a child's safety without severing the parent-child relationship. If a parent later wants to change the order, he or she can consult with a family law attorney about returning to family court to pursue a modification.