What Are the Causes of Supervised Visitation of a Child in Missouri in a Divorce?

By Jennifer Williams

The Missouri court's primary concern when deciding issues of custody is the best interests of the child. Generally, the court considers allowing both parents access to their child to be in the child's best interest. However, under Missouri law, specific problems a parent may have can make it dangerous, physically or emotionally, for the child to visit with that parent alone. In such circumstances, the court may order supervised visitation, which allows the parent access in an environment safe for the child.

The Missouri court's primary concern when deciding issues of custody is the best interests of the child. Generally, the court considers allowing both parents access to their child to be in the child's best interest. However, under Missouri law, specific problems a parent may have can make it dangerous, physically or emotionally, for the child to visit with that parent alone. In such circumstances, the court may order supervised visitation, which allows the parent access in an environment safe for the child.

Supervised Visitation

The point of supervised visitation is to allow a troubled parent to spend time with his child in an environment that ensures the child's safety. Supervised visitation can range from visits between a parent and his child in the presence of a court-approved adult to visits that must take place at a court-approved facility in the presence of child behavioral specialists. Missouri law specifies there must be strong evidence, such as documented past patterns of dangerous or criminal behavior, that the child will be in danger if left alone with the troubled parent before a Missouri court can order supervised visitation.

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Drug or Alcohol Abuse

If evidence such as police reports, arrest records or direct testimony from witnesses or therapists shows that a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse, the court may order supervised visitation. If the court finds, however, that there is another way to eliminate the danger to the child, it may order a less restricted alternative. For example, if the parent has a history of alcohol abuse, the court may order him to abstain prior to and during visitation. The order may also include a breath test before visitation begins to ensure that the parent is indeed alcohol free.

Sexual Abuse

A history of sexual abuse is grounds for Missouri courts to order supervised visitation. The abuse does not need to have been directed at the child. It is enough if there is substantiated evidence that the parent has a history of perpetrating sexual abuse. This evidence may take the form of neighbor or teacher witness testimony of abuse, a physician testifying about his observations of abuse during an exam, a therapist testifying to conversations with the child wherein the child revealed details of abuse, or documentary evidence such as police reports, medical records, or photographs depicting injuries on the child. However, if the parent has been convicted of felony sexual abuse against a minor, the Missouri courts are by law required to order that all visitation by the convicted parent be supervised.

Domestic Violence

Missouri courts have held that evidence of a history of violence in the home, even if it is not directed at the child, is sufficient justification for ordering supervised visitation. A history of domestic violence may be shown using prior convictions of similar domestic abuse within the immediate past five years. Testimony by the abuser's spouse or other first-hand observer of dangerous physical behavior in the presence of the child, such as throwing heavy objects and threats of suicide and death directed at the child and the other parent qualify as domestic violence in Missouri that justifies an order of supervised visitation.

Mental Illness

A documented history of mental illness that endangers the child can be grounds for restricting visitation. Mental health and medical records, as well as testimony of psychiatric professionals constitute evidence of a history of mental illness. Though Missouri recognizes the psychotherapist-patient privilege, its courts will admit this evidence when the custodial parent testifies to a suspicion of child endangerment in a custody or visitation suit. In this case, the courts give more weight to the best interests of the child than they do to doctor-patient or psychiatrist-patient privilege. For example, Missouri courts have allowed expert testimony by a psychiatrist regarding a parent's manic episodes accompanied by violence and out-of-control behavior, and have ruled this evidence proves child endangerment sufficient to justify an order of supervised visitation.

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Requirements for a Supervised Child Visitation in Michigan

References

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Divorce Law & Visitation Statutes in Georgia

Although there may be no such thing as a perfect divorce, most states attempt to achieve that ideal, at least where children are concerned. Georgia is no exception. The state's legislative code makes frequent mention of the importance of preserving the parent-child relationship, and it does not allow parents to divorce unless a detailed parenting plan is in place first. When parents can't agree to a parenting plan, a judge will order one.

Continuous Addiction & Child Custody

Habitual dependence on drugs or alcohol can call into question a person's ability to make good decisions, as well as the safety of his or her home environment. If the addicted individual is also a parent, the welfare of any child under that parent's supervision may be at risk. Although specific laws pertaining to substance abuse can vary between states, all custody decisions must be shown promote the best interests of the child. Knowing how evidence of continuous addiction may affect parental rights in your case will help remove some of the confusion in the custody process.

Grounds for Denying Visitation Rights

Although state courts are increasingly moving toward joint custody arrangements after divorce, the old standard of one parent having physical custody and the other having visitation still exists. This is particularly true while your divorce is still pending and if one parent has moved out of the marital home – judges don't like to upset a child's status quo unnecessarily, so the parent who moves out might end up with visitation rather than joint custody until the divorce is final. Under some circumstances, a court might deny visitation, but a custodial parent can't do so on her own.

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