What is Supervised Visitation and How Does It Work in Texas?

parents holding daughters hands

Texas courts order supervised visitation in rare cases. Judges recognize that supervised visitation can be stressful for everyone: the children and the parents.

However, in some cases, supervised visitation is necessary to protect the child from the risk of harm due to:

  • physical or sexual abuse

  • neglect

  • substance abuse

Texas courts order supervised visitation when there is clear and convincing evidence to prove that a parent poses a danger to the child if not supervised.

Judges do not grant all requests for supervised visitation in child custody cases. If you are considering requesting supervised visitation or you are the parent who was ordered supervised access, consult with a Lampasas child custody attorney.

What Does Supervised Visitation Mean?

If you were ordered supervised visitation, you might wonder what it means and how it works. As its name implies, supervised visitation means that you are only allowed to visit with your child under the supervision of another individual.

In Texas, supervised visitation can occur either through the court or a family member. When a parent is ordered supervised visitation, the order will usually set out the rules for the parent’s supervised visits. For example, if the supervised parent is suffering from substance abuse, he or she may be prohibited from taking drugs or drinking alcohol one or two days before the visitation.

In most cases, non-custodial parents who were ordered supervised visitation must notify the custodial parent of the supervised visit at least 48 hours in advance. The supervised parent may also be responsible for all the costs associated with the visit.

When Do Texas Courts Order Supervised Visitation?

Generally, Texas courts do not order supervised visitation unless they absolutely have to. There are several reasons a judge may order supervised visitation:

  1. Abuse or violence. Courts frown upon any type of violence or abuse. The court may terminate a parent’s visitation rights, or order supervised visitation if the parent physically abused the child or threatened to harm them.

  2. Emotional harm. Besides physical harm, a parent may also be ordered supervised visitation if they caused emotional harm to the child.

  3. Substance abuse. If a parent is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse, the court may order supervised visitation when there is evidence that the parent’s abuse poses a threat to the child’s wellbeing.

  4. Risk of abduction. When the court has clear and convincing evidence that a parent may abduct a child during unsupervised visitation, it may require the visits to be supervised by a third party.

  5. Mental illness. When there is proof that a parent’s mental illness could cause harm to the child during unsupervised visits, the court may require supervision.

  6. Incarceration. The court is likely to order supervised visitation when it has reason to believe that child visitation with an incarcerated parent poses a danger to the child.

  7. The preference of the child. Depending on the child’s age, maturity, and certain other factors, the court may order supervised visitation when it is requested by the child. However, the court would not grant a request for supervision if the other parent pressured the child to ask for supervised visitation.

How Does Supervised Visitation Work?

If you were ordered supervised visitation through the family court, the supervised visits would be scheduled by the court. Generally, the supervised parent will go to the court to spend his or her time with the child under the supervision of a third party.

Before the supervised visitation, the supervisor will become familiar with the visitation guidelines prohibiting specific behaviors during visits. For example, the supervised parent may not be allowed to touch the child.

During supervised visits, the court worker looks at the behavior of both the parent and the child and takes notes. When the supervised visit is over, the worker will prepare a report to the court to describe what they noticed during the visit.

Sometimes, the court may encourage or allow supervised visits to take place outside of courts, such as a park or mall. Understandably, courts may not be the best places for child visitation. In fact, children may be more comfortable interacting with their parents at home.

That is why courts allow supervised visitation to occur through a family member. It is advisable to consult with a child custody lawyer to determine the most appropriate option for supervised visitation in your particular case. (Read more about child custody: How Can You Obtain Full Custody of Your Child in Texas)

How to Change Supervised Visitation to Unsupervised?

If you were ordered supervised visitation, you might wonder how to change it to unsupervised visits. In Texas, the supervised parent has the right to ask the court to allow visitation on an unsupervised basis.

However, before you can get the supervised visitation order removed, the court will require you to take specific steps to prove that you no longer pose a threat to the wellbeing of your child.

Ending supervised visitation is no easy task. In most cases, it is advisable to seek the legal counsel of an experienced child custody attorney to help you change supervised visitation to unsupervised.

For example, if you were ordered supervised visitation because of your drug problem, the court might require you to complete substance abuse treatment and stay sober for a specified period of time before you can end supervision.

In some child custody cases where a parent is ordered supervised visitation, the court may also require the expert testimony of medical professionals to get the supervised visitation order removed.

Contact a Lampasas Child Custody Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you are wondering how to get the supervised visitation order removed or how to request supervision, you need to discuss your case with a Lampasas child custody attorney.

Our knowledgeable family law attorneys at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard are dedicated to helping you navigate the supervised visitation process in Texas and protect your rights. Call 254-501-4040 or contact us online for a free case review.

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