Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Cost of Supervised Visitation

"Custody battles are rarely gentle affairs, but if you are poor, such fights can carry an added frustration: waiting months to get a court-approved visit with your own child. In cases involving allegations of domestic violence, which are increasing, or other issues, such as drug abuse and long absenteeism, judges often require that child’s visits with the noncustodial parent take place only in the presence of a professional, like a social worker. But when judges order supervised visitation, neither the court nor other government agencies pay for the service, a growing problem in New York City and across the nation.

Because he cannot afford to pay for supervised visitation, which routinely costs $100 an hour, Juan Manuel Fernandez, 51, of Washington Heights, said, he has not seen his two daughters, ages 6 and 11, since last October. A year ago, he said, his wife walked out, moved the girls to New Jersey, and told the court he was threatening her. He denies the accusation, but the judge in his case ruled that supervision was necessary. So now he is waiting for free supervision through a nonprofit agency, which can take months." By Leslie Kaufman, N.Y. Times Link to Article (last visited 4-10-07 NVS)

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What about millions of Fathers who are MIA because of the family court system? Political figures often discuss the welfare of our children but never discuss the problem regarding our family court system, unfair visitation laws and how those laws effective fathers who want to be part of their children’s lives.

There is a Child Support Enforcement agency in every state but not a Visitation/Parenting Time Enforcement Agency. Why?? This needs to be an issue addressed at the federal level and not decided by the states because the system at the state level is not working. Most states call the time Fathers spend with their children as “Visitation” instead of calling it what it is “Parenting time”. Parenting time is a time to be a parent to your child. Visitation is what the family court force on fathers, as they want fathers to become an occasional visitor. Family courts wants fathers to settle for becoming a 'Disney Dad,' one whose role is nothing more than outings to theme parks once or twice a month. Why can’t the family courts grant time to fathers in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong and loving relationship between the child and the parent? The standard visitation which is four days a month is not enough time to be an effective parent to your child. The family courts very, very rarely enforce visitation. Here, the prejudice is against fathers and their parental rights. The congress refuses to acknowledge the injustice, cruelty, brutality and inhumanity of denying the love and companionship between a father and their child.

Fathers are systematically eliminated from their children’s lives. Father’s parental rights are systematically terminated by family court judges who have a deep seated gender bias against fathers. Termination of parental rights is both total and irrevocable. Termination of parental rights is the family law equivalent of the death penalty in a criminal case. The primary casualties in our Domestic Relations courts are our children.

Courts are supposed to approach cases of child custody, support payments, and visitation rights in a gender-neutral posture. It sounds fair, and it is fair. But it is a myth. Judges are not enforcing these gender laws fairly, and few seem to care. Unless you have been forcefully removed from the everyday upbringing of your child by the Court, you can not fathom the emotional distress. To discriminate against fathers because of their gender in this day and age is no different than telling a person to go to the back of the bus because of their skin color.

Posted by: A Father | Jun 9, 2009 10:57:42 PM

The whole Family Law thing is like a day at the zoo. We have been going to court for years. I am the Stepmother in this case however been mothering these children I hold so dear to me for nine years. Drugs and partying meant more to her than being a mother. The court slamed Jorge and I with paying for her supervised visitation because she is on welfare and chooses not to work. So the court has ordered we pay for her reunification and a therapist and paying for her visits!!! WOW this is crazy right! How can this be legal!! Oh yeah no child support either! Not to mention her criminal history is extensive and carries a child cruelity charge but yet she is the "mom". So how many chances does she get with the childrens well being and emotions at stake its not fare to them whats wrong with the system???

Posted by: Jorge | Jul 12, 2009 8:14:00 PM

I know this post is a little old but this problem is persisting. I'm 21 years old and my father and stepmom just divorced a few months ago. They have 11 and 5 year old boy - my brothers - with whom i have a great relationship. My stepmother had been lying to our family for years, having an affair with my father, stealing my college fund, and kicking me out of my own house a week after i turned 18. She accused my father of "threatening" her and was awarded supervised visitations once a week by the court. Besides for the fact that she is a liar which doesnt apply here -- she now will not let me or my dad see the kids. She is going about this by not approving any supervisors. We had appointed our aunt, but after a week or 2 the stepmom decided she didnt approve of the aunt and since then its been a month since we have had a visit. She is using the kids as a weapon. My 11 year old brother has contact with me on facebook and his cellphone, we talk ALOT about how he doesnt understand why his mom wont let him see me or his dad. My brother is very intelligent for his age, and me (being an engineering major) try to be as professional and supportive as i can. How is it that a woman has the power to blatantly abuse her children... Not seeing their father is psychological abuse that will last for years. It is wrong that my father who has never raised his voice or put a finger on the kids or his x wife, cannot even contact his children. Christmas and Thanksgiving are coming and they may not even be able to see us. Im not trying to be biased against her, but in my opinion she is manipulating the children on account that after the divorce my dads parents gave us a hundred grand to pay off the house and she is extremely jealous. We have a message of her stating "you got the better end of the deal! you got all this money and the house and all i got were the kids!" Im pretty sure it is disgusting to think that a house or money is more important than 2 children. Just putting this out there to help whomever may come across this post. Thanks for Reading and looking forward to making sure my generation stops this behavior and puts ignorant, uneducated abusive parents in their place.

Posted by: Anthony | Oct 23, 2009 12:50:53 PM

Although, in some cases supervised visits are necessary, most of the time the custodial parent is just trying to keep the non-custodial parent away from the child(ren). I think this is horrific abuse of power. The child(ren), non-custodial parent, grandparents, and other family members end up suffering. Laws need to change, giving all parties equal rights regardless of their financial means.

Posted by: PATTY | Feb 25, 2011 11:27:21 AM

There are cases that parents are really abusive toward the children and they do not watch what they say or do and it is very hurtful to children. Under these circumstances the service of a visitation monitor is valuable.

Posted by: Janet | Nov 21, 2017 5:42:24 PM

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