Frequently Asked Questions
About Supervised Visitation

What is Supervised Visitation?

The public policy of the State of California is to protect the best interests of children whose parents have a custody or visitation matter within the family courts. Sometimes, based on issues of protection and safety, a judge will decide that in order for a child to have contact with a parent, a neutral third person must be present during any visitation. This type of third-person visitation arrangement is often called "supervised visitation". Click here for information and help if you have experienced domestic violence.

A judge may order supervised visitation for many reasons, like:

  • to give the visiting parent a chance to address specific issues,
  • to help reintroduce a parent and a child after a long absence,
  • to help introduce a parent and a child when there has been no existing relationship between the parent and the child,
  • when there is a history or allegations of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or substance abuse;
  • when there are parenting concerns or mental illness; or
  • when there is a parental threat of abduction.

The court order will specify the time and duration of the visits. Sometimes, the court order will also specify who the supervised visitation provider is to be and where the visits are to take place.

Who is a Supervised Visitation Provider?

There are three types of supervised visitation providers: (1) the nonprofessional provider, (2) the professional provider, and (3) the therapeutic provider. All supervised visitation providers must agree to follow the Uniform Standards of Practice for Providers of Supervised Visitation.

The professional and therapeutic providers usually charge a fee for services and are experienced in and trained to provide supervised visitation services. The non-professional provider is usually a family member or friend who does not provide supervised visitation services. Your court order will usually say which type of provider you have to use to supervise these visits.

Are There Qualifications for a Supervised Visitation Provider?

Yes. All providers of supervised visitation must meet minimum qualifications prior to providing services. The qualifications for the three types of supervised visitation providers in California are:

Click here for the guidelines and standards for professional and therapeutic supervised visitation providers.

Click here for the guidelines for non-professional providers.

Are there Training Requirements for a Supervised Visitation Provider?

Yes. Professional and therapeutic providers should receive training on the topics outlined in Standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration.

Also, supervised visitation providers are strongly encouraged to follow the training and education requirements of the Supervised Visitation Network. Click here to see the standards for supervised visitation practice.

What is the Job of the Supervised Visitation Provider?

The provider is there to make every effort to keep your child safe and support your child in enjoying the visit with the supervised parent. Whether a paid professional, family member or friend, the provider's job is to make sure that the children involved in the visits are safe and free from any unnecessary stress. The provider must be present at all times during the visit, listen to what is being said, and pay close attention to the child's behavior. If necessary, the provider may interrupt or end a visit. All providers are to report suspected child abuse to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1 (800) 540-4000.

What are the boundaries between parent responsibility and provider responsibility for children during the provision of service?

Parents are responsible for the care of the child and the child's belongings during supervised visits, subject to any contrary order of the court.

Providers are responsible for the care and protection of a child during the transition of the child from one parent to another.

How Do I Choose a Non-Professional Provider?

Parents will usually ask a family member or friend that cares and is concerned for the children and family to act as a nonprofessional provider. This person must speak the same language as the visiting parent and child. The parents should ask someone they feel will be impartial, comfortable in following the court order. and will comply with A Guide for the Non-Professional Provider of Supervised Visitation. You can also get a copy of this guide at your court's clerk's office.

This guide is available in several languages. Look through this guide. It will help you choose the right person and determine if they are qualified. All providers are responsible for making every reasonable effort to assure the safety and welfare of the child and adults during the visitation, avoid any conflict of interest, maintain neutrality, and follow the terms and conditions in Standard 5.20. Prior to a family member or friend agreeing to act as a supervised visitation provider, you should give the nonprofessional guide to the person you wish to supervise the visits so they can make an informed decision.

How can I find a supervised visitation location?

Contact or check with your local Family Court Service office in your local court. Generally, each county Family Court Services office has a list of providers in your area. Click here to find your local Family Court Services office.

In 2008, the Administrative Office of the Courts published a statewide directory listing providers of supervised visitation and exchange services. Click here to see this directory. There is a supervised visitation directory that contains a listing of supervised visitation providers that may be helpful. In addition, the Supervised Visitation Network maintains a directory of service providers listed by state and city.

IMPORTANT
Before you enter into an agreement with a provider, get his or her name and California Driver's License number and call TrustLine at 1-800-822-8490. If the provider is cleared by TrustLine it means that no disqualifying child abuse reports or disqualifying criminal convictions exist in California. You may want to call from time to time to see that the provider is still in good standing. Not all professional or therapeutic providers go through TrustLine for child abuse and criminal background clearance so it is important to remember that prior to the commencement of service; providers of supervised visitation must be cleared by the State Child Abuse Registry and completed fingerprinting clearance.

In addition, professional and therapeutic providers must obtain and maintain insurance coverage that is appropriate to their business operations and the nature of the work and services provided.

Where can I get more information about supervised visitation?

You can visit the Supervised Visitation Network for more information about supervised visitation and related services.