In custody cases, when parties do not share joint custody (AKA equal residential responsibility), one parent is considered the custodial parent and is awarded primary residential responsibility. The non-custodial parent is typically awarded parenting time. Whether their parenting time is unsupervised or supervised depends on the circumstances surrounding the case.
What is child parenting time?
In terms of a child custody case, child parenting time is defined as the rights for a non-custodial parent to see their child, or as a temporary custody agreement that has been granted for a non-custodial parent or guardian. North Dakota courts generally assume that it is beneficial for both biological parents of a minor child to have parenting time rights, unless it is shown to be against the minor child’s best interests. The court determines what is in a child’s best interests by applying 13 factors outlined under N.D.C.C § 14-09-06.2.
What’s the Difference between Supervised and Unsupervised Parenting Time?
There are two main types of parenting time: supervised and unsupervised. While a non-custodial parent is generally permitted to spend time alone with the child, if the court determines that it is not safe for the child to spend time alone with the parent, then the court will order supervised parenting time.
Supervised Parenting Time
Supervised parenting time means that the non-custodial parent has been deemed dangerous or poses a potential threat to the minor child and therefore, must have supervised contact with said child. These visits can take place with the custodial parent present, with a trusted third party, or at a supervised parenting time facility.
If parties have restraining orders or refuse to be around each other and there isn’t a third party willing to supervise the visits or exchanges, a supervised parenting time facility is a viable option. These facilities provide a tool for families helping them through difficult or transitional periods while allowing children to maintain a relationship with both parents. There is a directory which lists the parenting time providers in North Dakota. There is Kids First in Grand Forks and Rainbow Bridge in Moorhead. Rates vary between facilities. Rainbow Bridge for example charges $15 per exchange and $35/hour per parent.
When is Supervised Parenting Time Appropriate?
While a judge has the discretion to order supervised parenting time on their own accord, typically supervision is requested by the custodial parent. Custodial parents should ask for supervised parenting time when they have good reason to suspect that unsupervised parenting time would be harmful to their child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. It is then up to the court to determine whether or not to grant the request.
There are a multitude of circumstances where a court is likely to agree that a non-custodial parent should have supervised parenting time:
- History of physical, mental, or sexual abuse. The abuse does not need to be perpetrated against the child but can be ordered if the non-custodial parent abused the custodial parent in the past, even if the child was not involved.
- When the non-custodial parent has an active substance abuse problem. A parent who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not be able to properly supervise a child or provide a safe environment. Supervised parenting time would allow the parent who suffers from addiction to maintain a relationship with the child by visiting them in a safe way while they seek treatment.
- If a non-custodial parent has threatened or attempted to kidnap the child from the non-custodial parent (check out our previous blog regarding parental kidnapping), supervised parenting time may be appropriate. Even if the non-custodial parent doesn’t intend to harm the child, removing the child from their primary caregiver in violation of the judgment not only constitutes contempt of court but is harmful to the child.
- If a parent has an uncontrolled mental illness that causes them to behave erratically. If a child has a medical condition that requires the parent to administer medicine and a non-custodial parent has not been involved and doesn’t know how to attend to the child’s medical treatments or has a history of failing to provide medical treatment, supervised parenting time may be appropriate, even if only temporarily.
- When a parent has been absent from the child’s life since birth or for a long period of time. A transitional schedule of supervised parenting time may help the child adjust and give the parent and child a chance to get to know each other in an environment that feels safe and comfortable.
If you believe supervised parenting time is appropriate for your child, let an experienced attorney at Rosenquist Law Office answer your questions and guide you through the process.
Contact Rosenquist Law Office by phone at (701) 775-0654 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation.
*The information contained in this article and on this website is for informational purposes only. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.