In spring 2014 the Utah Legislature passed what I believe is a wise law governing the limited circumstances in supervised parent-time may be appropriate.
The law is found at Utah Code Section 30-3-34.5.
It provides for certain defined situations in which supervised parent-time may be appropriate. This is when the court finds there is evidence that the child would be subjected to physical or emotional harm or child abuse if left unsupervised by the non-custodial parent. Under these circumstances the court may order supervised parent-time if no less restrictive means is reasonable available. Emphasis added.
The legislature wisely recognized the fundamental liberty interest of both parents and their children for the parents to have unrestricted and unsupervised access to their children.
The legislature also provided that the court should set specific goals and expectations for the noncustodial parent and hold review hearings with an eye towards having the noncustodial parent have unsupervised visitation.
Too often in the past we have seen situations in which vindictive parents seek to impose unnecessary controls and limits on the other parent’s time or relationship with the children in divorce or custody cases for reasons other than protection of the children.
It is puzzling to me when a parent seeks to have the other parent’s time with the child supervised for reasons other than protection of the child. After all, Utah law presumes that parental care is preferable to surrogate care. It makes no sense to try to have a capable parent’s time with the children supervised by a third party when the parent herself is the person presumed to be most interested in the child’s welfare.
This is not to say there are not circumstances in which supervision would be appropriate. But I believe the legislature has carefully weighed and delineated those limited circumstances in the new statute.
This material should not be construed as legal advice for any particular fact situation, but is intended for general informational purposes only. For advice specific to any individual situation, an experienced attorney should be contacted.