Supervised visitation is one possible outcome of a child custody case. While it's important for children to develop a strong, loving bond with both parents, a child's safety must take priority over all other factors. As a result, supervised visits are often mandated when there are concern's over a person's parental fitness.
For example, alleged substance abuse in a home is a serious issue. Children exposed to this environment would be at risk, so a judge might order visits to take place at a childcare center or other safe area. A third party will also be present during supervised visits. Usually a counselor or social worker, this person will be specified by the judge in the visitation order. In some cases, an impartial relative might accompany parent and child on their visits.
Supervised visits usually remain in place until any issues are resolved. If the court is investigating any allegations against a parent, the order will remain in place until a decision has been made. A parent may also be asked to perform some duty, such as attendance of a drug rehabilitation program. If home conditions are poor and potentially harmful to a child, supervised visits will occur until the parent has changed residences.
Judges prefer to grant a child ample time with both parents, so when supervised visits are mandated it's usually for good reason. While most parents would balk at the idea of supervised visits with their child, following the court's mandate ensures you retain a relationship. If you're concerned that your child is not safe with your ex, it's best to confer with an attorney. You may be able to request a modification of the existing visitation order to ensure your child is secure.