If a judge has ordered that you have only supervised visitation with your children during or after your divorce, it may seem like a slap in the face. However, it's essential to understand that the purpose of supervised visitation is to protect your children -- not to punish you.
Typically, supervised visitation is ordered if a parent has a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse, if there's a question about whether the children are safe and cared for when they're around that parent or if there are accusations (or evidence) of domestic violence.
If you've been granted supervised visitation while an investigation is being carried out, it's essential to cooperate with that investigation. If your co-parent has alleged something untrue (like domestic violence), work with your attorney to present your case. In the meantime, it's important to understand and comply with the terms of your visitation so that you can continue to see your children.
When supervised visitation is ordered, another individual needs to be present when the parent is around their children. Depending on what the judge designates, this could be a family member, a social services professional or a therapist. Sometimes, children are allowed to go to the parent's home. Other times, the visitations have to take place in a child care center or another visitation facility.
It's important to understand whether this is a temporary or indefinite order and if there are conditions for having the order lifted. For example, if a parent is in a recovery program for substance abuse, they may need to show that they've completed the program and remained sober for some time before they're allowed unsupervised visits with their children. Supervised visitation may be ordered if a parent is living in a home or neighborhood that the judge believes is unsafe for the children. Once a parent has moved, the order may be lifted.
By demonstrating that you understand and respect the need for supervised visitation (whether you do or not) and that your top priority, like that of the judge, is your children's well-being and safety, you improve your chances of getting greater access to your children and being able to spend time with them alone. In the meantime, make your visits special and enjoyable for your children, even if the circumstances aren't optimal.