Wisconsin courts strongly prefer for both parents to play an important role in a child’s life, even after a divorce. The general view is that unless there are extreme circumstances of abuse or neglect, a child is best served by receiving love and support from both parents. In some cases, however, the importance of establishing a parent-child relationship or maintaining that relationship after a divorce must be balanced against the need to protect a child from the possibility of unsafe conditions, the threat of a lingering mental health condition, or the possibility of abuse. Under these circumstances, courts may try to protect the interests of the parties by providing that a parent and child meet through supervised visitation. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, our Milwaukee child custody lawyers can walk you through the supervised visitation process and explain what you can expect.The Structure of Supervised Visitation in Wisconsin
In theory, the parents could mutually agree to supervised visitation, but that is highly unlikely. In almost all circumstances, a parent would prefer to meet with their child while not under the watchful eye of a third party, which means that supervised visitation is usually an arrangement that is forced upon parents and required by the courts.
Supervised visitation following a divorce is typically handled by a third-party organization that will provide a safe, monitored space for a parent and a child to meet. Unfortunately, there are not a large number of providers in the Southeastern Wisconsin area and there are usually waiting lists for their services. In Milwaukee County, The Milwaukee Visitation Center and Safe Haven can sometimes assist with providing supervised visitation at their facilities. Another option can be a relative or even family friend mutually agreed to by the parents.
Under a supervised visitation arrangement, a non-custodial parent can meet with a child during designated visitation times, which may occur anywhere from a few times a week to once a month or less often, depending on the circumstances. During the visitation, the parent and the child will be allowed to freely interact, but they will be supervised at all times by another individual. Depending on the provider and situation, this supervision may take place via video monitoring, or it may require someone else to be physically present in the room. Any problems with the visitation can then be reported to the court, if necessary. In extreme circumstances, continuing threats to the child’s well-being may lead to an attempt to terminate the parental rights of the parent who has supervised visitation.
Typically, third-party providers that provide supervised visitation charge for their time and services, which can quickly add up. This can present a financial hurdle and mean that parents who want to see their children more often are prevented from doing so because they cannot afford the cost.When is Supervised Visitation Necessary?
In Wisconsin, supervised visitation is typically only ordered in the most extreme circumstances. For example, if a child is reuniting with a parent who previously engaged in physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, supervised visitation will be ordered. Likewise, if a parent has not previously engaged in abusive behavior, but there is evidence that the parent may be a possible physical or emotional threat to the child, supervised visitation may be necessary. For example, a parent who has recently been engaging in erratic and unpredictable behaviors that are a danger to their own well-being may require supervised visitation.
Supervised visitation is not an arrangement that is taken lightly by the courts, and it will not be ordered simply because a parent disagrees with the behaviors, decisions, or habits of the other parent, or because of choices that, although not socially optimal, do not actually present any real threat to a child. For instance, parents with alcohol and drug addictions usually will not require supervised visitation as long as their behaviors are not having a practical impact on the child. Similarly, a parent and a child simply not getting along does not provide a basis for supervised visitation.Contact a Milwaukee Attorney to Discuss Your Options in a Child Custody Dispute
If you are considering requesting supervised visitation in order to protect your child from a perceived threat, or if you are looking to reestablish a relationship with your child but believe that it is likely to require you to start with supervised visitation, you may wish to talk with an attorney to evaluate the options available to you. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, our Milwaukee lawyers can advocate for a visitation structure that avoids parental alienation and helps protect your child’s well-being as well as their relationship with you. Contact our office for more information at (414) 271-6400 or online. We represent residents of Milwaukee, Mequon, Racine, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities in Racine, Washington, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, and Waukesha Counties.