Requirements for a Supervised Child Visitation in Michigan
By Jennifer Williams
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Michigan courts consider it in the best interests of children of divorce that children maintain a relationship with both parents. However, when a parent suffers from addiction, mental illness or otherwise presents a danger to the child, Michigan courts may order supervised visitation, to allow the parent access to his child while protecting the child's physical, mental and emotional health. Michigan law has requirements for supervised visitation to ensure that the child is well protected during each visit with the non-custodial parent.
Parenting Time Order
The structure of visitation, supervised or otherwise, between a child and the non-custodial parent in Michigan is set out in a parenting time order. If a custodial parent requests that visitation between the child and the other parent be supervised and the court agrees, the supervision requirement is set out in this order. The specific requirements for supervised visitation vary depending on the circumstances necessitating the supervision requirement.
Supervision by an Agency
The court may order visitation in the presence of trained professionals associated with a state agency, such as family services, in cases where the parent has a history of child, domestic or substance abuse. Requirements for agency visitation include no physical contact between the child and parent unless initiated by the child, and no in-audible communication between the parent and child. This includes written communication. Discussion of abuse, court proceedings, custody, living or school arrangements, details regarding the other parent, and conversation must be conducted in a fluent language of the child are not allowed. The parent may not give non-approved gifts to the child. The parent must be substance free during the visitation. Finally, the visitation must proceed in an area specifically provided for supervised visitation.
Spuervision by a Third Party
Michigan law allows courts to select a relative or friend to supervise visitation. Visitation in this instance occurs when a parent and child have been estranged, when the parent is a recovering addict, or in any situation where the parent's history does not indicate such a threat to the child's safety that he must be monitored by agency personnel during visitation. The third party supervisor must be old enough, and capable, of genuinely supervising the visitation. The degree of supervision depends on the reason for the supervision requirement. The Court may require the visitation to take place in home of the supervisor while he is in residence, or the court may order the supervisor to be in the same room during visitation. Additionally, the court may order the most restrictive condition that the supervisor maintain constant visual contact with the parent and child during visitation.
Supervision by a Therapist
When children have been estranged from a parent, because the parent has chosen to stay away (voluntary estrangement) or because he was incarcerated (involuntary estrangement) the Michigan court may order visitation in the presence of a licensed family or child therapist, called therapeutic visitation, or therapeutic parenting time. The therapist will introduce, or re-introduce, the parent and child, and facilitate communication and relationship building between them.
Michigan is one of four states that administers the safe havens grant. This grant funds the establishment and administration of facilities across Michigan where a custodial parent may safely deliver a child to the other parent for supervised visitation, and if necessary where visitation takes place under the watchful eye of professionals trained in domestic violence prevention. Safe Havens facilities are used in situations where a history of domestic violence necessitates supervised visitation. Often, Safe Havens facilities are used only as exchange points for children whose parents cannot have contact with each other. However, if visitation takes place at a facility, the visitation must be monitored by trained personnel of the Safe Havens program.
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.