For a number of reasons, parents may not be able to manage a joint legal and joint physical custody relationship, and in these cases, a visitation schedule is an alternative way to structure access of both parents to the child or children. The parties may agree to a visitation arrangement, or a court may order visitation, when for example, one parent travels extensively and cannot manage a joint physical arrangement, one parent lives in another state or country, or there are be certain kinds of issues with the parenting abilities of one parent, making visitation a more appropriate form of child access.
A court may order visitation to be unsupervised or supervised. Unsupervised visitation is appropriate when the court does not believe there is any danger to the child in spending visitation time with the parent. If however, there are concerns, such as over violent, erratic behavior, issues of mental health, issues of alcohol and drug addiction or improper usage, or criminal history, the court may well find that the parent is “unfit” at the time and order that all visitation with the child by the parent be supervised.
There are limited official options for supervised visitation. Some churches and other community centers offer supervised visitation (there is one in Annapolis). Other options include hiring police or officials who agree to act as supervisors. Supervised visitation, with the agreement of the Court, can also be arranged with a family member such as a grandparent or other person. If the supervisor agrees and is acceptable to the Court, then supervised visitation may be ordered with the named person as supervisor.
Supervised child visitation orders are also subject to modification by the court. If the behavior of the parent that caused the court to order supervised visitation is changed, the court can change the structure of visitation to unsupervised or even joint custody.