Many Pennsylvania families will encounter difficult challenges when parents decide to end their marriages in court. It is not uncommon for divorce issues to arise that prompt parents to seek the court’s intervention to resolve. Child custody and visitation are typically high priority issues where a judge’s discretion may be needed to set forth restricted terms meant to keep children safe at all times.

What are some of the reasons a judge may order supervised visitation? It is not likely to occur if a parent simply tells the court that he or she does not trust his or her co-parent. Evidence must be shown to convince the court that unsupervised visits would somehow be detrimental to children’s emotional, physical or mental well-being.

A parent who has a substance abuse problem, for instance, may raise the court’s concern because such habits may place children in harm’s way. Allegations of physical or sexual abuse are also issues that would at least prompt the court to order further investigation. Most judges tread carefully in such situations, however, because it is not uncommon for parents to make false accusations when trying to gain the upper hand in custody proceedings or to get revenge against a former spouse for past hurts that occurred during marriage.

A parent with mental illness or one who has neglected a child may also be subject to supervised visitation in divorce. Sometimes, this type of court order is temporary and contingent upon certain issues, such as a parent testing clean of drugs or alcohol for a certain period of time before the court allows him or her to begin or resume unsupervised visits. Any Pennsylvania parent concerned about a particular visitation issue may seek support from an experienced family law attorney.