North Carolina, as well as many states in this country, holds a presumption that when parents are separated, it is in a child’s best interest to have generous visitation with and access to both parents. This is to maintain and foster a continuing bond and relationship between them. However, this presumption of reasonable access can be overcome in circumstances when a court finds that this is contrary to the best interest of the child. In some cases, the court may order that visitation between a parent and child must be supervised.
The courts in North Carolina are permitted to deny a parent “reasonable visitation”. North Carolina General Statutes 50-13.5(i) (Denial of Parental Visitation Right; Written Finding of Fact) states that “In any case in which an award of child custody is made in a district court, the trial judge, prior to denying a parent the right of reasonable visitation, shall make a written finding of fact that the parent being denied visitation rights is an unfit person to visit the child or that such visitation rights are not in the best interest of the child.”
This has been interpreted to mean that when a court orders supervised visitation, it should make findings that either the parent in question is “an unfit person to visit the child” or that reasonable visitation is not in the best interest of the child. The statutes do not specify what sort of factors or parental conduct a court should consider when determining that supervised visitation is appropriate. However, it is safe to say that some prior history of child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse, criminal history, or prolonged absence may all support a conclusion that a child should be not be alone with the parent. Further, the parent’s misconduct does not rise to the level of completely depriving the parent of visitation and access.
Visitation can be supervised by any third party the court sees fit. This may include a family member, friend, or other person that the parties put forward at a place determined by agreement or by court order. In some cases where a court has particular concerns, it may order for supervised visitation by professionals, such as a child therapist or a specialized visitation provider. A list of supervised visitation providers in North Carolina can be found at the following link.
New Direction Family Law
If you are attempting to resolve a family law or child custody issue and have concerns about the safety of your child, contact New Direction Family Law. We take child safety incredibly seriously and will pursue any appropriate legal remedies to help you. Call us to discuss your option. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law