Frequently Asked Questions
DISCLAIMER: The following information is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult a licensed attorney if you have specific legal questions, in particular regarding requirements of the professional supervised visitation provider under Standard 5.20 and Family Code section 3200.5.
The purpose of the FAQ is provide you with general information only.
If there has been abuse in your relationship: If one parent has been abusive toward the other parent or a child, it is very important to have a parenting plan in place that will help everyone stay safe. You may want to talk with a lawyer to find out the best legal way for you to proceed. In most cities and counties in California, there are domestic violence agencies that can provide legal help with custody issues. You can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or you can contact the national hotline at http://www.thehotline.org and ask them about domestic violence organizations in your area.
What should I know about web cam visits?
You should speak with your attorney regarding the legal parameters of a supervised web cam visit within the State of California.
Technology provides non-traditional venues for Supervised Visitation Services, for example service provision via web cam visits. CASVSP holds a number of concerns regarding the role of the professional provider in California and their decision to provide these types of services. Parents should be aware that neither Family Code 3200.5 nor Standard 5.20 provides legal guidance for these types of services. While providers may believe they can provide reasonable safety for a wider spectrum of services than the law takes into account, it is important for participants in the supervised visitation process to fully understand what comprises reasonable safety in a non-traditional method of service.
A professional provider in California agrees to provide reasonable safety for the child(ren), non-custodial and custodial party during supervised visitation. In this role and per Standard 5.20, the provider affirms that they will monitor the conditions to ensure the safety and welfare of the child(j)(1); (4) Ensure that all contact between the child and the noncustodial party is within the provider's hearing and sight at all times, and that discussions are audible to the provider(j)(4); and (10) Allow no visits to occur while the visiting party appears to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs.
Based on provider feedback, California professionals have been asked to provide supervised web cam visits and it is our understanding that these services are being set up as follows:
(1) Child participates in the web session at a secure location (i.e. supervised visitation agency) and/or in their home with the supervised visitation monitor present,
(2) Non-custodial party attends the web session from a separate location outside of direct monitoring.
In the event of a safety concern, a California professional provider will find it difficult to defend the reasonableness of a decision to allow web cam without the presence of a neutral third person at the site of the non-custodial party. In California, the provider assumes the responsibility to ensure safety for all involved. As such, the provider is in no position to observe off-screen behaviors and condition of the non-custodial party, nor can the provider control for the presence of others in the event of a court mandate that contact is to be solely limited to non-custodial party and child(ren). (If the court order originates from a California Family Court and/or service is being provided within the State of California, then the role of the professional provider as described in Family Code 3200.5 and Standard 5.20 apply.) Unless another provider is contracted to be present with the non-custodial party during the visit, it is difficult to understand how a professional provider could remain compliant in their duty to provide reasonable safety assurance for a party visiting from a remote location. Failure to do so invites abuse of the intent of the law and precludes the provider's ability to remain in compliance with Standard 5.20.
California providers are required to produce a report about the visit and the report must contain all facts, observations and direct statements made during the supervised visit. Additionally, there may be legal considerations for how any potential electronic data is stored, maintained and destroyed.
What is supervised visitation?
A: Supervised visitation is contact between a noncustodial party and one or more children in the presence of a neutral third person. [Standard 5.20(b)]
Every California provider must be able to comprehend and recite this definition. It is the job that each provider has agreed to perform and it sets the context for everything else involved in the process, including but not limited to policy and procedures creation and implementation, and safety planning.
In cases where a court order for supervised visitation identifies specific information such as day(s)/time(s)/location(s), can the supervised visitation provider change the schedule or location of the visit?
A: Under Family Code 3200.5(c)(2)(I), the professional provider shall "agree to adhere to and enforce the court order regarding supervised visitation." This is also consistent with section (j)(2) under Standard 5.20 of the California Standards of Judicial Administration (Uniform Standards of Practice for Providers of Supervised Visitation) that states the provider should "Unless otherwise ordered by the court, enforce the frequency and duration of the visits as ordered by the court." While many supervised visitation providers have developed the general practice of changing and modifying the court order to best fit the scheduling needs of the parents, or the agency, or the independent provider or scheduling changes agreed upon by the parents. However, this practice appears to conflict with Family Code section 3002.5(c)(2)(I) and the role of provider unless the parents have a new court order (or signed stipulated agreement) for the agreed upon day/time/schedule/and location changes. Additionally, Standard 5.20(j) further states that "The provider bears the sole responsibility for enforcement of all the terms and conditions of any supervised visitation." The role of the professional provider is to refer the parties back to court if they are not in agreement with the court order and the parties should seek legal consultation to ensure they are in compliance with the court order.
A parent recently questioned the providers “qualifications” to provide supervised visitation services. Specifically, the provider was asked to prove that they had received the required training to be a professional provider of supervised visitation. Does the provider have to prove that they meet qualification and training requirements for a professional provider?
A: Under Family Code section 3200.5(d)(2), professional providers must sign a declaration (under penalty of perjury) that they meet the training and qualifications of a provider. Effective January 1, 2013, Assembly Bill 1674 (Stats. 2012, ch. 692) added section 3200.5 to the Family Code. Specifically, section 3200.5(d)(1) requires that professional providers receive 24 hours of minimum training on the following subject areas related to supervised visitation: (A) the role of the provider; (B) child abuse reporting laws; (C) Recordkeeping procedures; (D) Screening, monitoring, and termination of visitation, (E) Developmental needs of children, (F) Legal responsibilities and obligations of a provider; (G) Cultural sensitivity; (H) Conflicts of interest; (I) Confidentiality; (J) Issues relating to substance abuse; child abuse; sexual abuse and domestic violence; and (K) Basic knowledge of family and juvenile law.
Additionally, Standard 5.20(d) of the California Standards of Judicial Administration (Uniform Standards of Practice for Providers of Supervised Visitation) is consistent with Family Code section 3200.5(d)(1) as Standard 5.20(d) provides that “professional providers should receive training that should include specific subject areas—these subject areas mirror Family Code section 3200.5(d)(1), except for item K. Standard 5.20 required professional providers of supervised visitation to complete training requirements prior to adoption of Family Code section 3200.5. This misunderstanding of basic requirements and completion of required training by professional providers in the field of supervised visitation has resulted in questionable practices. An underlying intent/goal of AB 1674 was to address problematic training by the professional provider and the refusal to comply with Standard 5.20.
Professional supervised visitation providers are required (and have always had an obligation to complete training pursuant to Standard 5.20 and Family Code section 3201) to complete training requirements set forth by state statute. This includes the professional provider demonstrating they have been trained and that they meet qualifications for a provider. A parent does have the right to ask the professional provider to show proof of their compliance with Family Code 3200.5. To help further support and educate parents that are court-ordered to supervised visitation, CASVSP will be hosting a community Parent Supervised Visitation Forum, in Summer 2013, to answer questions raised by parents regarding the role and responsibility of professional providers, parents rights and obligations during supervised visitation service delivery, and educational information regarding Family Code 3200.5 and Standard 5.20.