In cases where a child’s safety or well-being (physical or emotional) would be endangered by regular visitation with a parent, the courts in Iowa and Illinois have the authority to order that visitation be supervised by a 3rd party who is able to ensure that the child is kept safe.
There are many reasons why a judge in Iowa or Illinois may order that visits be supervised. Some of the more common reasons are as follows:
- Physical or sexual abuse of the child committed by the parent
- Physical or sexual abuse of another child committed by the parent
- Previous attempts or threats to kidnap or hide the child
- Alcohol or drug abuse by the parent that prevents the parent from properly caring for the child
- Suicidal actions or statements committed by the parent
- Failure on the part of the parent to protect the child from others (e.g. a new boyfriend or girlfriend) who harm the child
In addition to those reasons for longer-term supervision, a court may also order that initial visits between a child and parent who have not seen each other in a long time be supervised. For example, if a child is 5 years old and has never met his or her father, the court may order that the first several visits be supervised so that the child is not shocked by suddenly being left alone with a person the child would see as a stranger.
Obtaining a court order for supervised visitation in the Illinois Circuit Court or the Iowa District Court requires a showing that the supervision is necessary to protect the child from harm. That is because the court normally wishes to have a non-custodial parent exercise normal, unsupervised visitation. It is only when supervision is shown to be necessary and proper that the court will depart from that normal rule of unsupervised visitation.
Supervised visits will sometimes continue for a short time, such as in situations where a parent is being introduced or re-introduced to a child whom they have not seen in a long time. In other cases, such as were a parent has been found to have seriously abused a child, supervision may last for months or years. The Circuit Court (IL) or District Court (IA) will consider each situation and what is best for the child when determining a duration of supervision and whether to end supervision early or extend supervision on the request of either parent and their attorney.