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Supervised vs. Unsupervised Parenting Time: What’s the Difference?

Most parents and children have the right to spend time together. Even when your co-parent is not perfect, your child is still entitled to spend time with them.

In some narrow circumstances, a judge can order supervised parenting time. For supervised parenting time to be granted, the court must be persuaded that your co-parent poses a threat to your child’s physical, mental, or emotional well-being.

Read on to learn the differences between supervised and unsupervised parenting time in your child custody matter.

Parenting Time in Michigan Custody Cases

Instead of awarding physical custody and visitation, Michigan courts now use the terms “parenting plan” and “parenting time.” The law presumes that children should spend time with both parents, although they do not need to spend the same amount of time with each.

The child’s schedule for spending time with each parent is called the parenting plan. It usually addresses details like:

  • Where the child sleeps during the school week and weekends
  • Who handles drop off and pick up from school and other activities
  • Where the child spends summers, school breaks, and holidays
  • How parents notify each other of travel arrangements

When a child spends time with a parent, that is called parenting time. Parenting time can take two forms:

Unsupervised Parenting Time

Unsupervised parenting time is the typical arrangement. In unsupervised parenting time, a parent has virtually no restrictions on how to spend time with the child.

They can go anywhere and do anything within the scope of the custody order. Most importantly, they do not need a third party to accompany them. Unless the parent plans to travel out of state or out of the country with the child or needs more than the time allowed in the parenting plan, the other parent has no say in how or where they spend their time.

Supervised Parenting Time

A parent subject to supervised parenting time can only see the child in the presence of a third-party supervisor. If the parent violates the custody order by visiting without a supervisor, the court can reduce or take away the parent’s parenting time.

The supervisor can be either:

  • An agency, charity, or therapist approved for supervised parenting time
  • A third party acceptable to both parents, like a grandparent or friend

Sometimes, the custody order will explain the supervisor’s role. Other times, the custody order will allow the supervisor to exercise their discretion in ending the parenting time prematurely.

Key Differences Between Supervised and Unsupervised Parenting Time

Supervised and unsupervised parenting time have several differences, including:

How Parenting Time Gets Awarded

Courts only order supervised parenting time if you ask for it and provide a reason for your request. Some possible grounds for supervised parenting time include the following:

  • Domestic violence
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • History as a sex offender

If you persuade a judge, you will receive a court order outlining the terms of the supervision.

Options for Visits

Parents and children have fewer options for supervised parenting time. The parent cannot go anywhere with the child unless the supervisor accompanies them.

Cost for Supervision

Professional supervisors charge a fee for supervision. Even a friend or relative appointed as a supervisor might need reimbursement for their time, transportation costs, or other expenses.

Seeking or Fighting Supervised Parenting Time

Supervised parenting time can protect a child’s safety. It can also unfairly punish a parent who has done nothing to deserve supervision. To discuss your parenting plan and the prospect of supervised parenting time with an experienced family lawyer, contact Gucciardo Family Law for a free initial consultation.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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