The preamble to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines states that the Guidelines “. . .are based on the premise that it is usually in a child’s best interest to have frequent, meaningful and continuing contact with each parent. It is assumed that both parents nurture their child in important ways, significant to the development and wellbeing of the child.” In custody cases, a Court is tasked with evaluating what is best for the child when it comes to custody and parenting time. While the Guidelines presume that meaningful contact with both parents is the in the best interest of a child, there are circumstances in which contact with one parent is not in the best interest of the child. The Court may restrict a parent’s parenting time if the Court finds the parenting time will endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development. When this happens, the court will typically order that the parent’s parenting time be supervised to protect the best interest of the child.
Supervised visitations can be adjusted to best suit the particular circumstances of each individual family. Professional supervisors are available in most cities. These supervisors are trained to provide supervision in situations where contact with the parent presents a danger to the child. The supervisor will ensure the child’s safety during the visit. Professional supervisors typically write reports after each visit, and the reports are available to the Court to monitor the progress of the supervised visitations. Some families may have friends or families who are trusted to provide supervision for one parent’s parenting time. Depending on the concerns that lead to supervised visitation, the court may find that therapeutic visitations, provided by a therapist, are the most beneficial to the child.
The Court may find that a Guardian ad Litem, a neutral third party who investigates what is in the best interest of the child, is necessary prior to finding that supervised visitation is necessary. There are some instances where supervised visitation is likely, or requested, to occur. Supervised visitation is likely to be utilized if the Department of Child Services gets involved and a Child in Need of Services case is opened. The Court is required by statute to supervise a parent’s parenting time if the child was the victim of domestic violence or witnessed domestic violence by one of his or her parents. Substance abuse, mental health concerns, instability, violence, or criminal concerns may also lead the Court to believe that supervised visitation is in a child’s best interest. The court may, if appropriate, suspend a parent’s parenting time until supervised visitation becomes appropriate.
Navigating parenting time can be difficult when there are concerns about the child’s safety and well-being when with their parent. Contact the experienced attorneys at Slotegraaf Niehoff, P.C. to assist with your parenting time needs.