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What is Supervised Custody in California?

McKean Family Law > Child Custody  > What is Supervised Custody in California?

What is Supervised Custody in California?

what is supervised custody

Supervised custody, often called supervised visitation, is where a non-custodial parent is monitored during their parenting time by a third party.

The Court generally starts with a presumption that it is best for the child to maintain contact with both parents, but If there is any concern to the safety of a child, a judge may order supervised visits.

There are many reasons why a judge might make a court order for supervised visitation, such as allegations of physical or sexual abuse of the child, mental illness of a parent, domestic violence, or concerns about a parent’s suitability.


When there is a dispute over custody arrangements of children, the judge looks to Family Code Section 3020 in making child custody orders. They consider the best interest of a child, which is what affects the health, safety, and welfare of a child.

This statute says that child abuse or domestic violence in a household where a child resides is detrimental to the child. If there is a finding of detriment, the judge in your case will often make a custody and visitation order which requires a visiting parent to be monitored by a supervised visitation provider so long as the order remains.

If you believe a child to be in danger, you can contact your local Child Protective Services agency to report your concerns. A qualified social worker will evaluate claims of abuse relayed to them and act to protect the child.

Related: Child Visitation Affects


A court may order supervised visitation when a child’s safety is at risk. There are many situations that could require a supervised visit order.

Often a California Judge orders supervised visitation in the following circumstances:

  • When there is no existing relationship between the other parent and child.
  • When there is substance abuse, especially in the child’s presence.
  • When there is actual or suspected child abuse or the parent has been charged criminally for child abuse or endangerment.
  • When there is concern that domestic violence has or is likely to continue in that parent’s home.
  • When there is concern that a parent might abduct a child.

To determine if your unique situation warrants a request for supervised visitation, contact an attorney for specific advice to your situation.

Related: Visitation Rights and Child Custody


If you have an active court case, you can file a motion with the Court. In that request, you can ask the judge to place the parent on supervised visitation.

In knowing what the Court is looking for in making its ruling, you will want to address your present concerns of how your child’s health, safety, or welfare is being detrimentally affected in the other parent’s care.

Similarly, if you are concerned that there is child abuse or domestic violence happening in the home of the other parent, you will want to relay this information to the Court.

Each case is different. To get personalized advice for your specific needs, reach out to a family law attorney.


The Court recognizes two different types of supervised visitation: professional supervised visitation and non-professional supervised visitation.

Typically, professional supervision will occur at a supervised visitation center by a neutral third party. A professional supervisor will charge for their services but the agencies providing services typically have facilities where visits can take place and require their supervisors to have specific training requirements.

The agency provides supervised visitation services and will determine the time and duration of the visits based on their availability but ensure that they comply with the court order as much as possible.

A qualified professional provider monitors the other parent’s activities during their supervised visits and is tasked to gather information about the visit and to keep the child safe.

During the intake process, parents are instructed to avoid discussing legal proceedings or other adult issues and ensure that there are positive goodbyes at the end of the visit.

The staff member will draft reports detailing the interactions and the parent-child relationship.

These reports from professional providers can be provided to the Court and can be used to help the Court determine if supervision is appropriate.

Non-professionally supervised visits are supervised visits that are conducted by a third-party nonprofessional provider, usually a family member of one of the parents.

The parents can agree to a neutral third person to monitor the visits, or the judge may order a family member or third party to monitor the visits instead of a professional provider.

If using nonprofessional providers, the supervisor must complete a Judicial Council form to stating that they meet the following criteria:

  • Be over the age of 18.
  • Have no record of a conviction of child abuse or other crimes against a person.
  • Have not been placed on supervised visitation themselves; and,
  • If transporting a child, they must carry automobile insurance.


If someone is on supervised visitation and wishes to transition to unsupervised visitation, there are actions that can be taken to hasten a return to being a part of their child’s everyday life. For example, if there was domestic violence in the home, a parent’s successful completion in a batter’s intervention program can help.

If there are concerns about the ability to parent, a parenting class may help. We recommend that a parent make a reasonable effort to get a class that is not online but has in-person classroom instruction.

Removing the third-person visitation arrangement is not always easy. However, the court wants to give children a normal parenting plan so long as it is safe. Parent activities such as taking classes can improve the chances of removing the supervision requirements.

If you need help to obtain or end a supervised visitation order or to learn more about how supervised visitation works, reach out to our office today to set up a consultation.

Contact our office so that you can discuss your specific needs to better understand what you can expect moving forward.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship.