Moving From Supervised to Unsupervised Visitation (Tips From an Attorney)

Going from supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation is a process that takes time. It requires patience, dedication, and a willingness to cooperate with your co-parent and the court. 

Here are the steps you can take to increase your chances of obtaining unsupervised visitation:

1. Understand Why The Court Ordered Supervised Visitation in The First Place

Supervised visitation is typically ordered when the court has concerns about the non-custodial parent’s ability to provide a safe and stable environment for the child. 

To progress to unsupervised visitation, you need to understand the court’s specific concerns and work towards addressing them.

For example, if the court is concerned about substance abuse, you may need to attend a drug rehabilitation program and provide proof of completion to the court. 

If the court is concerned about your living arrangements, you may need to find a more suitable home for your child.

2. Follow the Court’s Orders Exactly as They Are Laid Out

During supervised visitation, you will be given specific instructions to follow. It is essential to follow these orders to the letter. 

By doing so, you demonstrate to the court that you are capable of adhering to rules and guidelines.

This means showing up on time, following the designated schedule, and following the guidelines set by the court.

Dress appropriately, and be respectful to the supervisor and your co-parent. By doing so, you show that you take your visitation rights seriously and are willing to cooperate.

3. Build a Positive Relationship with Your Child

The court’s primary concern is the child’s well-being. Building a positive relationship with your child demonstrates that you can provide them with a nurturing and supportive environment.

During supervised visits, focus on engaging with your child and building a rapport. Ask them about their day, play games together, and show interest in their hobbies and interests.

4. Communicate Effectively with Your Co-Parent

Effective communication with your co-parent is crucial in progressing to unsupervised visitation. Be open and honest about your intentions and work together to create a plan to transition to unsupervised visits.

Also, avoid speaking negatively about your co-parent in front of your child or supervisor. 

5. Seek Professional Help

If the court has specific concerns about your ability to provide your child with a safe and stable environment, seeking professional help can demonstrate your commitment to improving the situation.

For example, attending therapy or parenting classes can show that you are taking steps to address any issues the court may have. Keep records of any therapy or classes attended and provide them to the court as evidence of your efforts.

6. Get Sober

Getting sober can undoubtedly help you move towards unsupervised visitation. 

If substance abuse was a factor in the court’s decision to order supervised visitation, demonstrating that you have completed a substance abuse program or maintained sobriety can show the court that you are taking steps to address the issue.

To demonstrate that you are sober, you should provide the court with evidence of your sobriety. This can include certificates of completion from a substance abuse program, attendance records from support group meetings, or letters of recommendation from a sponsor or therapist.

7. Keep Detailed Records

Keeping detailed records of your visits with your child can be helpful. This can include notes on what you did together, any milestones or accomplishments, and any issues that arose. This is excellent evidence to present to the judge.

8. Be Patient

The process of going from supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation can take time. It is essential to remain patient and follow the court’s orders during this time.

If you feel that progress is not being made, speak to your attorney or the court supervisor to discuss your concerns. They can offer guidance and support.

How To File a Motion With The Court to Go From Supervised Visitation to Unsupervised Visitation? 

You will need an order from the court to move to unsupervised visitation. To do this, you will need to file a motion to modify visitation with the court. 

This motion will outline your reason for requesting the change and demonstrate that the circumstances which required supervised visitation have now changed. 

To file a motion with the court to go from supervised to unsupervised visitation, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Obtain the necessary forms: You can typically find the forms on the court’s website or by visiting the courthouse in person. You may need to file a motion or petition to modify your existing custody order or visitation agreement.
  2. Complete the forms: Once you have the necessary forms, you must complete them accurately and provide all the required information. You will also need to provide supporting documentation, such as letters of support or records of successful supervised visits.
  3. File the forms with the court: After completing the forms, you will need to file them with the court clerk and pay any required fees. You should also make copies of all the documents and documentation for your records.
  4. Serve the other party: You must serve the other party with a copy of the forms and any supporting documentation. This typically requires having a process server deliver them in person.
  5. Attend the court hearing: After filing your motion and serving the other party, you will need to attend a court hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case and any evidence in support of your request for unsupervised visitation. The other party will also have the opportunity to present their case.
  6. Wait for the court’s decision: After the hearing, the judge will review all the evidence and decide whether to grant your request for unsupervised visitation. The judge may issue a written order or make a decision verbally in court.

It is important to note that filing a motion to modify custody or visitation orders can be complicated, and I recommend you consult with an attorney specializing in family law to ensure that you are following the correct procedures and have the best chance of success.


Q. How long does supervised visitation last?

The length of supervised visitation can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. It may last for a few months, or it may continue for several years. The court will determine the duration of supervised visitation based on the child’s best interests.

Q. Can I ask the other parent to agree to unsupervised visitation?

Yes, you can ask the other parent to agree to unsupervised visitation. However, if the other parent disagrees, you will need to go through the court to request unsupervised visitation.

Q. What factors does the court consider when allowing unsupervised visitation? 

The court considers factors such as the child’s age and needs, the parent’s stability and capabilities, the relationship between the parent and child, and the parent’s willingness to cooperate.

Q. Can I seek professional help to improve my chances of transitioning to unsupervised visitation? 

Yes, seeking professional help such as counseling or parenting classes can demonstrate to the court that you are committed to improving your relationship with your child.

Q. What should I do if the other parent objects to unsupervised visitation?

If the other parent objects to unsupervised visitation, you should work with your attorney to address their concerns and present evidence to the court demonstrating that unsupervised visitation is in the child’s best interests.

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Tim McDuffey is a practicing attorney in the State of Missouri. Tim is a licensed member of the Missouri Bar and Missouri Bar Association.

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