What is Supervised Visitation?

How do I get supervised visitation in Arkansas?

A frequent request from clients during divorce or child custody cases is “How do I get supervised visitation?”  What they are really asking is “How do I get the judge to make my ex have supervised visitation?” This is a common request, but the fact is that supervised visitation is an exception, not the rule.  It requires specific facts that must be proven, and they must be bad enough to outweigh the public desire to keep children and parents together. Strong emotions, bad feelings, dislike and concern, alone, are not enough.

How Does Arkansas Determine Visitation?

Arkansas courts favor preserving the parent-child relationship and will maintain a custody and visitation schedule that does not involve supervision, if possible.  Prior to coming to court, it is unlikely that one parent was only allowed around the child(ren) when another adult was present to supervise. Why should the judge change that without a clear showing that there is NOW a need for supervision?  

The standard for the judge is based on the welfare and best interest of the child.  A child’s best interests are based on many factors concerning parents and the safety and well-being of the child (see below).

10 Factors To Determine The Best Interests of The Child

  1. Psychological relationship between the parents and the child
  2. Need for stability and continuity in the child’s relationship with parents
  3. Need for stability and continuity in child’s relationship with siblings and other family
  4. Past conduct of the parents toward the child
  5. The reasonable preference of the child (if the child is old enough to explain)
  6. Assuring frequent and continuing contact between the child and both parents.
  7. Did the child suffer physical injury or personally witness abuse (domestic violence)?
  8. Does the child have special needs and how does each parent take care of those needs?
  9. Mental and physical health of the parents
  10. Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent

The factors above are just examples and a judge will look at the facts and circumstances of each case.  In every case, a factor may be given more or less weight than the others. With that in mind, below are examples where Arkansas courts have found reason to require supervised visitation.

10 Reasons For Supervised Visitation In Arkansas

  1. Domestic violence
  2. Child abuse or maltreatment
  3. Mental illness of the parent
  4. Sex offenses or sexual abuse
  5. Drug or alcohol abuse
  6. Extended absences between the parent and child
  7. Newly established paternity
  8. Homelessness or unsafe housing
  9. Irresponsible behavior with alcohol and firearms
  10. A parent holding foreign citizenship threatening abduction

Everyone can agree the items above can be reasons for concern about the interaction between any adult and child, even a parent.  But just one of them alone may not be sufficient, if the factor does not directly impact the child.  Again, it is a balancing act.

Finally, here are 10 things that just aren’t sufficient, on their own, to justify supervised visitation:

10 Things That Don’t Cause Supervised Visitation

  1. The other parent is responsible for the divorce (fault doesn’t matter).
  2. You don’t like the other parent’s girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse.
  3. You can’t stand the other parent and can’t get along with them.
  4. Payback.  This is common and sets the stage for years of grief.  Learn to get along for the sake of the child(ren).
  5. Former in-laws or grandparents that you don’t like or do not want around your kids.
  6. Concern that the other parent won’t help with homework, won’t keep the same schedule or allows too much time on YouTube.
  7. A criminal record.  Is it relevant to the child? Maybe.
  8. The other parent doesn’t provide hourly updates when they have the child.
  9. The other parent won’t let you talk to the child around-the-clock.  Regular calls with an 8 year old at 11 PM on a school night? No.
  10. The other parent took the child somewhere and didn’t inform you exactly when and how you wanted.

You may be more confused than you were when you started reading this.  We understand that these situations can be very confusing, and we are happy to help you work through any issues you may have concerning visitation.  If you have questions about child custody, visitation or supervised visitation, give us a call today and we can schedule your free consultation.