Guide to supervised visitation

The guide can help you

  • Understand what supervised visitation is
  • Ask for supervised visitation
  • Find a professional provider

If you are a supervised visitation provider, the guide includes resources for you and training materials.

 

Are you a provider looking for training?

Supervised visitation

Sometimes, based on issues of protection and safety, a judge will order that a child only have contact with a parent when a neutral third person is present during the visitation. This is often called supervised visitation.

The neutral person, a supervised visitation provider, could be a specific adult that one or both parents suggest, like a family member or friend, or a paid professional with specialized training. The judge will order who the neutral person is, how long, and when the visits will take place. 

The provider is there to make every effort to keep your child safe. The provider must 

  • Be present at all times during the visit
  • Listen to what is being said
  • Pay close attention to the child's behavior
  • Report any suspected child abuse

If the provider has concerns, they can interrupt or end the visit.

Judges may order supervised visitation when there are concerns about the safety or welfare of your child. 

There are many reasons that a judge may order supervised visitation. For example, a judge may order supervision to

  • Give the visiting parent a chance to address a certain issue
  • Help introduce the visiting parent to a child they've never had a relationship with
  • Help reintroduce a visiting parent to their child when they've been absent a long time
  • Address a threat of parental abduction
  • Address concerns about the visiting parents parenting or mental illness

The judge may also order supervised visitation when there's a history of domestic violence, child abuse, neglect, or substance abuse. 

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If there's a history of domestic violence in your family, find out more about special laws that apply to custody and visitation. A judge must consider supervised visitation in cases of domestic violence.

 

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More questions? Watch a 6-minute video about supervised visitation.

If you think you need supervised visitation

You will need to get a court order for supervised visitation. This means asking the judge for an order. In your request, you can ask for a nonprofessional or professional provider. 

Nonprofessional versus professional

A nonprofessional is not a specially trained person. They are often a family member or friend. A professional supervisor must go through training and pass a child abuse and criminal background check.

Both nonprofessional or professional providers must follow and meet the requirements in standard 5.20 of the Standard of Judicial Administration and Section 3200.5. of the Family Code. 

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If there are concerns about domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect, the provider should be a professional. This person has specialized training. If not, you can ask for either a nonprofessional or professional provider. The judge will ultimately decide which one you can use and put that in the court order. 

A nonprofessional provider is usually a family member or friend 

Parents often ask a family member or friend to be a provider. The person must

  • Speak the same language as the visiting parent and child
  • Be impartial (neutral)
  • Be comfortable following a court order
  • Make every reasonable effort to assure the safety and welfare of your child and the adults during the
  • Avoid any conflict of interest

If you want to choose a nonprofessional provider, explain to them what they will be required to do before they agree. Give them a copy of A Guide for Non-Professional Providers. If you need a copy in another language, ask your court for a copy in another language. The guide is available in multiple languages.

A professional provider is someone with specialized training that has passed a background check

Professional providers charge a fee for the service. 
Training requirements: Before providing services, the provider must have complete at least 24 hours of training, including 12 hours of classroom instruction on specific topics.  For example, on reporting child abuse, child development, and the role of professional providers.

Background check: They must have passed a Live Scan criminal background check. They must be registered with TrustLine, a database of childcare providers that have passed criminal background checks.

You read more about their training and background check requirements in standard 5.20 of the Standard of Judicial Administration.

If you do not have an open family law case (like a divorce or parentage case), you first need to start one. Then, in that case, you can ask the judge to order supervised visitation.

There are two ways to get a court order for supervised visitation. If you and the other parent agree, you and the other parent can sign an agreement the judge also signs.  If you don't agree, you can file papers in court to ask a judge to order supervised visitation. 

Agree to supervised visitation

If you and the other parent agree to supervised visitation, you can write up a court order and submit it to the court for a judge to sign. Get step-by-step instructions on how to prepare an agreement.  You must attach the Supervised Visitation Order (form FL-341a) to your agreement for the judge to sign.

Ask a judge to order supervised visitation

If you and the other parent do not agree, you can ask a judge to order supervised visitation by filing a request in court. You will need to say in your request if you want a professional or nonprofessional supervisor.  

To ask for supervised visitation you will need to fill out and file:

  • Request for Order (form FL-300)
  • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Application Attachment (form FL-311) (check the boxes in item 3 for supervised visitation)

You will also need to write a Declaration that explains why you need supervised visitation. You can use the Attachment to Judicial Council Form (form MC-025) to write your Declaration. 

Get step-by-step instructions on how to ask for a custody and visitation order.

If the judge agrees, they will sign a Supervised Visitation Order (form FL-341a).

If you are asking for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

you can ask for supervised visitation in that request. If the judge agrees, they will sign a Supervised Visitation and Exchange Order (form DV-150).

 

 

If the judge orders supervised visitation

You need to use the provider, and type of provider, the judge listed in your Supervised Visitation Order (form FL-341a) or Supervised Visitation and Exchange Order (form DV-150).

  • If the orders say you must use a professional provider, but it does not list a specific provider, you must find one
  • If you are using a nonprofessional or professional provider, you will need to give them a form to sign and file with the court

If things change, for example, if the family member listed as a provider can't do it anymore, you will need a new court order.

Get more information if you need to:

Check if your court has a list of providers

Contact or check with your local Family Court Services office in your local court. Generally, each court’s Family Court Services office has a list of providers in your area. You can also ask your local court clerk’s office.

The California Association of Supervised Visitation Service Providers and the Supervised Visitation Network (SVN) may have a list of providers.

These agencies do not regulate or regularly monitor the providers in their organization. If you're interested in someone from their list  

  • Interview the provider you choose
  • Make sure he or she is qualified and trained
  • Check they meet child abuse and fingerprinting clearance requirements by calling TrustLine at 1-800-822-8490. You will need the provider's full name and driver's license number.

Questions to ask when you call or meet the provider

Make a list of questions you have for the provider. Make sure you understand what services will be provided and what is expected of you.

Ask about their background and qualifications

For example:

  • Ask the provider about their background and experience
  • Confirm they meet the requirements in standard 5.20 of the Standard of Judicial Administration and Section 3200.5 of the Family Code
  • Get their full name and driver's license number so you can check them with TrustLine by calling 1-800-822-8490
  • If there are concerns about domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, or sexual abuse, ask about their training and experience in these issues

Find out about their policies

For example, ask about their

  • Fees and method of payment
  • Safety and security measures
  • Program conditions and guidelines
  • Hours of operation
  • Reasons for interrupting or ending a visit
  • Confidentiality and Termination process

The provider will also be asked to sign an agreement that they will follow and adhere to the program’s terms and conditions for service. 

    If your court order says that you can use a nonprofessional provider, you must give that person a court form to fill out and sign. This then must get filed with the court.

    Get form

    If your court order says that you can use a professional provider, you must give the provider a court form to fill out and sign. This then must get filed with the court.

    Get form

    You must go through the court to change the visitation

    The provider cannot change visitation for you. You will need to ask the judge to change the visitation order. Get step-by-step instructions on how to ask the judge to change your custody and visitation order. Your court's Self-Help Center Staff can also give you information on how to do this.

    Family Court Services may be able to assist if both parents want

    If you and the other parent are both willing, you may also ask Family Court Services to assist if you are both willing to meet with a mediator. A court mediator can assist you in reaching an agreement that changes the visitation schedule. Your agreement can then be filed in court and become an order. Call your Family Court Services office to schedule an appointment.

    More information for providers and parents

    For a quick introduction to supervised visitation and exchange services, watch a quick 6-minute video that covers:

    • What is supervised visitation and exchange
    • Types of providers
    • Role of the provider
    • Cases with domestic violence or sexual abuse
    • Where to learn more

    Play introductory video

    Take a 5-part online training with practical information for professional and non-professional providers. Parents can learn more by watching as well.

    Five-part training covers:

    • An overview of supervised visitation and exchange services
    • The role of the provider
    • Non-professional provider requirements
    • Professional provider requirements and scenarios
    • Terms, FAQs, and resources for parents or providers

    Professional providers who finish the training and pass the quiz receive training education hours.

    Play training course

    The Supervised Visitation Network has more information about supervised visitation and related services. You can also find information at the California Association of Supervised Visitation Service Providers

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