Under Indiana law, courts decide child custody based on the best interests of the child. This usually results in either shared parental custody or physical custody awarded to one parent while the other receives reasonable parenting time.
Understanding Supervised Visitation
When a married couple with children files for divorce, child custody issues are a primary concern for both spouses. Indiana courts consider the best interests of the child when determining child custody, so they look at various conditions for each parent.
In many cases, parents are awarded joint or shared custody where equal parenting time is spent with the child. However, when the court is concerned about a child’s well being or safety around a parent, the court may award primary physical custody to one parent and award the other parent supervised visitation.
Under Indiana law, the court is permitted to modify an order that grants or denies parenting time rights, if the modification serves the best interests of the child. However, parenting time rights may not be modified unless the court determines that parenting time may endanger the child’s physical or mental health, or cause significant harm to the child’s emotional development.
If one spouse seeks to restrict the other spouse’s parenting time and visitation rights, that party or his/her attorney must provide proof for justification. In most divorce cases, eliminating or restricting parenting time is the last resort. Typically, restrictions apply to children who may be endangered by an abusive parent, a parent with mental problems, or a parent determined to be unfit by the court. In such cases, physicians, mental health evaluators, counselors, parenting coordinators, and guardian ad litems may be involved.
Parents with a history of domestic violence are likely to receive supervised visitation. The court may impose supervised visitation on a non-custodial parent for up to two years if there is a conviction for family/domestic violence, and the child overheard or witnessed the incident. The restricted parent may also be required to complete a batterer’s intervention program before gaining unrestricted parenting time.
If a parent has a history of drug abuse, gang involvement, or criminal behavior, an Indiana family law attorney can ask the court to order supervised visitation by providing proper evidence to show proof. Supervised visitation takes place at a court-approved child advocacy center with a third party who observes all interactions between the parent and child.