Often in our Allegheny County family law client’s court orders and custody arrangements, custody is specified as “supervised custody.” What exactly does this mean? Supervised custody means that a “supervisor” will monitor the custody time in a given case. What is interesting about this language in a court order in Pennsylvania is that the word “supervised” is not so clearly defined. In today’s blog, your Pennsylvania child custody lawyers discuss options for understanding supervised custody.
Understanding that there was a problem, Judge Jeannine Turgeon a family law Judge, decided to take matters into her own hands. A few years back she addressed the problem with the lack of guidance on “supervised” custody in Pennsylvania. Along with other family law attorneys and judges, she decided to make an educational DVD for parents and nonprofessional supervised physical custody supervisors.
Along with the producer, Judge Turgeon and her team produced the DVD, along with an accompanying booklet which provides some general advice to the supervisor. The video itself consists of five “vignettes,” which were acted out by various attorneys and others in these videos. These vignettes showed various “typical scenarios” that arise with supervised physical custody. The way these vignettes work is that the viewer sees the problem as it happens, and then afterwards, the supervisor is provided with a solution as to how that particular situation could have been handled differently or in a better way.
The various vignettes in Judge Turgeon’s video demonstrate common problems with supervised shared custody situations. For example, one vignette addresses the issue of what to do when parents are holding grudges against one another. Other situations addressed in this informational DVD include when one parent is smoking or drinking, or when the supervisor is part of “trash-talking” with one parent about the other. This video also stresses the importance of the supervisor monitoring everything that happens during his/her custody visit, and to remain involved with the parties and active throughout the entire visit.
This educational and informational video is the first step in providing guidance to supervisors on how to handle their supervised visits. This is an important stride in Pennsylvania family law, as now those who are chosen as supervisors for custody visits have some guidance as to how to conduct themselves during the visit. If you have any questions about child custody in Western Pennsylvania, contact us at Lisa Marie Vari & Associates today.