Frequently Asked Questions about Supervised Visitation

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Author: Cook County Legal Providers, Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services
Last updated: February 2008

Note:The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act and Paternity Act changed on January 1, 2016. The most up-to-date information can be found in the following articles on Parentage (formerly Paternity), Divorce, Allocation of Parental Responsibilities (formerly Custody), Parenting Time (formerly Visitation), and Child Support.

What is supervised visitation?

Supervised visitation requires that a third party be there during a parent's time with his or her children. The idea is to provide for safe contact. In some situations, the presence of a third party is required only at the time the child is transferred from one parent to another. This is called supervised transfer or supervised drop-off and pick-up.

How is supervision set up?

A judge may order supervised visitation when unsupervised contact would seriously endanger the mental or physical well-being of the child. The judge may also require supervision if the visiting parent has had little to no contact with the child or the child is very young. Parents may agree that supervision would be wise for the sake of their children. Such an agreement would be signed by the judge in the form of an agreed court order. Parents then make arrangements with the supervisor according to the court order. Some professional supervisors also have their own guidelines.

Who can be a supervisor?

A supervisor must be an adult. He or she can be a relative, family friend, professional from a public or private agency, a trained supervisor, or member of the religious community.

What characteristics does a qualified supervisor have?

The supervisor should have the following characteristics:

  • Interest in the welfare of the child and each parent. Respect for the relationship of the child with each parent.
  • Commitment to a successful visit.
  • Accepted and respected by both parents and the children.
  • Fluent in languages that may be used during the visit.
  • Understands appropriate child care procedures.
  • Able to recognize inappropriate behavior, stop the inappropriate behavior, and end visits when necessary. Sometimes, children and parents who were not close can use this as a second chance for a more loving relationship.

What does the supervisor do?

The supervisor watches how the children and parents get along. He or she makes sure that the interactions are safe and appropriate, and tries to foster a natural relationship between parents and children. The supervisor makes sure that the guidelines set by the Court and parents are followed.

What are the benefits of supervised visitation?

Many benefits are possible. Supervised visitation provides a safe setting that allows children to develop or renew a healthy relationship with the visiting parent. It can reduce conflict, and make sure that no one will be hurt or unfairly blamed for trying to do harm. It can offer an opportunity to reinforce good parenting skills. It provides time for trust to develop between parents and between parents and children. During long court processes, it can allow for continued contact between parents and children.

How long does supervised visitation last?

There are no set guidelines for how long supervision should continue. It should last until a healthy and safe child-parent bond is formed or restored; or, both parents agree to end supervision; or the Court ends supervision. Safe, comfortable, and loving time spent together by parents and their children is vital to a child's well-being... even when it is supervised time. All children need continued contact with both parents when possible. Parents do best, too, when they can share loving time with their children. Where there is a question of child safety or discomfort, or of parent's safety or well being, supervised visitation offers an opportunity for a healthy and loving bond between parent and children.

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