Standards of Practice

Standard 5.20. Uniform standards of practice for providers of supervised visitation

  • Scope of service
    This standard defines the standards of practice, including duties and obligations, for providers of supervised visitation under
    Family Code sections 3200 and 3200.5. Unless specified otherwise, the standards of practice are designed to apply to all
    providers of supervised visitation, whether the provider is a friend, relative, paid independent contractor, employee, intern,
    or volunteer operating independently or through a supervised visitation center or agency. The goal of these standards of
    practice is to assure the safety and welfare of the child, adults, and providers of supervised visitation. Once safety is
    assured, the best interest of the child is the paramount consideration at all sages and particularly in deciding the manner in
    which supervision is provided. Each court is encouraged to adopt local court rules necessary to implement these standards
    of practice.
    (Subd (a) amended effective January 1, 2015; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)
  • Definition
    For purposes of this standard, the following definitions apply:
    (1) A “nonprofessional provider,” as defined in Family Code section 3200.5, is any person who is not paid for providing
    supervised visitation services.
    (2) A “professional provider,” as defined in Family Code section 3200.5, is any person who is paid for providing
    supervised visitation services, or an independent contractor, employee, intern, or volunteer operating independently
    or through a supervised visitation center or agency.
    (3) A “provider,” as defined in Family Code section 3200, includes any individual who functions as a visitation monitor, as
    well as supervised visitation centers.
    (4) “Supervised visitation” is contact between a noncustodial party and one or more children in the presence of a neutral
    third person.
    (5) A “TrusLine provider,” is a professional supervised visitation provider who is registered on TrustLine, a database that
    is administered by the California Department of Social Services.
    (Subd (b) amended effective January 1, 2021; previously amended effective January 1, 2007, and January 1, 2015.)
  • Type of provider
    Who provides the supervision and the manner in which supervision is provided depends on different factors, including local
    resources, the financial situation of the parties, and the degree of risk in each case. While the court makes the final decision
    as to the manner in which supervision is provided and any terms or conditions, the court may consider recommendations by
    the attorney for the child, the parties and their attorneys, Family Court Services staf, evaluators, and therapists. As
    specified in Family Code section 3200.5, in any case in which the court has determined that there is domesic violence or
    child abuse or neglect, as defined in section 11165.6 of the Penal Code, and the court determines supervision is necessary,
    the court mus consider whether to use a professional or nonprofessional provider based on the child’s bes interes.
    (Subd (c) amended effective January 1, 2015; previously amended effective January 1, 2007.)
  • Qualifications of nonprofessional providers
    1. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or stipulated by the parties, the nonprofessional provider must:
      1. Have no record of a conviction for child molestation, child abuse, or other crimes against a person;
      2. Have proof of automobile insurance if transporting the child;
      3.  Have no current or pas court order in which the provider is the person being supervised; and
      4. Agree to adhere to and enforce the court order regarding supervised visitation.
      5. Be 21 years of age or older;
      6. Have no record of conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) within the las 5 years;
      7.  Not have been on probation or parole for the las 10 years;
      8.  Have no civil, criminal, or juvenile restraining orders within the las 10 years; and
      9. Not be financially dependent on the person being supervised. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or stipulated by the parties, the nonprofessional provider should:
    2. Sign a local court form or Declaration of Supervised Visitation Provider (Nonprofessional) (form FL-324(NP)) sating
      that all requirements to be a nonprofessional provider have been met.
  • (Subd (d) amended effective January 1, 2021; adopted as part of subd (c) previously relettered and amended as subd (d) effective
    January 1, 2015.)

  • Qualifications of professional providers
    1. The professional provider must:
        1. Be 21 years of age or older;
        2. Have no record of conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) within the las 5 years;
        3. Not have been on probation or parole for the las 10 years;
        4. Have no record of a conviction for child molestation, child abuse, or other crimes against a person;
        5. Have proof of automobile insurance if transporting the child;
        6. Have no civil, criminal, or juvenile restraining orders within the las 10 years;
        7. Have no current or pas court order in which the provider is the person being supervised;
        8. Be able to speak the language of the party being supervised and of the child, or the provider mus provide a neutral interpreter over the age of 18 who is able to do so;
        9. Agree to adhere to and enforce the court order regarding supervised visitation;
        10. Complete a Live Scan criminal background check, at the expense of the provider or the supervised visitation center
          or agency, before providing visitation services;
        11. Be registered as a TrustLine provider under chapter 3.35 (commencing with section 1596.60) of division 2 of the Health and Safety Code. Notwithstanding any other law, a person is ineligible to be a professional provider if the California Department of Social Services either:
          1. Denies that person’s TrustLine registration under Health and Safety Code sections 1596.605 or 1596.607; or
          2. Revokes that person’s TrustLine registration under Health and Safety Code section 1596.608;
        12. Meet the training requirements listed in (f);
        13. Sign a Declaration of Supervised Visitation Provider (Professional) (form FL-324(P)) sating that all requirements to be a professional provider have been met; and
        14. Sign a separate, updated form FL-324(P) each time the professional provider submits a report to the court.
  • (Subd (e) amended effective January 1, 2021; adopted as part of subd (c); previously relettered and amended as subd (e) effective
    January 1, 2015.)

  • Training for professional providers
      1. Before providing services, professional providers mus complete 24 hours of training, including at leas 12 hours of
        classroom instruction in the following subjects: 

        1. The role of a professional provider;
        2. Child abuse reporting laws;
        3.  Record-keeping procedures;
        4. Screening, monitoring, and termination of visitation;
        5. Developmental needs of children;
        6. Legal responsibilities and obligations of a provider;
        7. Cultural sensitivity;
        8. Conflicts of interest, including the acceptance of gifts;
        9. Confidentiality;
        10. Issues relating to substance abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence; and
        11. Basic knowledge of family and juvenile law.
      2. Of the 24 hours of training required in (1), the training mus include at leas:
        1. Three hours on the screening, monitoring, and termination of visitation;
        2. Three hours on the developmental needs of children;
        3. Three hours on issues relating to substance abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, and domestic violence; and
        4. One hour on basic knowledge of family law
      3. On or after January 1, 2021, to complete the required training in child abuse reporting laws under (1)(B), a
        professional provider mus complete an online training required for mandated reporters that is provided by the
        California Department of Social Services. This mandatory online training is not intended to increase the total of 24
        hours of training required in (1).
        (Subd (f) amended effective January 1, 2021; adopted as subd (d) effective January 1, 2007; previously amended and relettered as subd (f) effective January 1, 2015.)
  • Safety and security procedures
    All providers mus make every reasonable effort to assure the safety and welfare of the child and adults during the visitation.
    Professional providers should establish a written protocol, with the assistance of the local law enforcement agency, that
    describes the emergency assistance and responses that can be expected from the local law enforcement agency. In
    addition, the professional provider should: 

      1. Establish and sate in writing minimum security procedures and inform the parties of these procedures before the
        commencement of supervised visitation;
      2. Conduct comprehensive intake and screening to understand the nature and degree of risk for each case. The
        procedures for intake should include separate interviews with the parties before the first visit. During the interview, the
        provider should obtain identifying information and explain the reasons for temporary suspension or termination of a
        visit under this standard. If the child is of sufficient age and capacity, the provider should include the child in part of
        the intake or orientation process. Any discussion should be presented to the child in a manner appropriate to the
        child’s developmental sage;
      3. Obtain during the intake process:
        1. Copies of any protective order;
        2. Current court orders;
        3. Any Judicial Council form relating to supervised visitation orders;
        4. A report of any written records of allegations of domestic violence or abuse; and
        5. An account of the child’s health needs if the child has a chronic health condition; and
      4. Establish written procedures that mus be followed in the event a child is abducted during supervised visitation.

    (Subd (g) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (d) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (e) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Ratio of children to provider
      1. The ratio of children to a professional provider must be contingent on:
        1. The degree of risk factors present in each case;
        2. The nature of supervision required in each case;
        3. The number and ages of the children to be supervised during a visit;
        4. The number of people, as provided in the court order, visiting the child during the visit;
        5. The duration and location of the visit; and
        6. The experience of the provider.

    (Subd (h) amended and relettered efective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (e) efective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (f) efective January 1, 2007.)

  • Conflict of interest
        1. All providers should maintain neutrality by refusing to discuss the merits of the case or agree with or support one party over
          another. Any discussion between a provider and the parties should be for the purposes of arranging visitation and providing
          for the safety of the children. In order to avoid a confict of interes, the professional provider should not:
            1.  Be fnancially dependent on the person being supervised;
            2. Be an employee of the person being supervised;
            3. Be an employee of or afliated with any superior court in the county in which the supervision is ordered unless
              specifed in the employment contract; or
            4. Be in an intimate relationship with the person being supervised.

    (Subd (i) amended and relettered efective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (f) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (g) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Maintenance and disclosure of records for professional providers
      1. Professional providers mus keep a record for each case, including the following:
        1. A written record of each contact and visit;
        2. Who attended the visit;
        3. Any failure to comply with the terms and conditions of the visitation; and
        4. Any incidence of abuse as required by law.
      2. Case recordings should be limited to facts, observations, and direct statements made by the parties, not personal conclusions, suggestions, or opinions of the provider. All contacts by the provider in person, in writing, or by
        telephone with either party, the children, the court, attorneys, mental health professionals, and referring agencies should be documented in the case file. All entries should be dated and signed by the person recording the entry.
      3. If ordered by the court or requested by either party or the attorney for either party or the attorney for the child, a report about the supervised visit mus be produced. These reports should include facts, observations, and direct statements and not opinions or recommendations regarding future visitation. The original report mus be sent to the court if so ordered, or to the requesting party or attorney, and copies should be sent to all parties, their attorneys, and the attorney for the child.
      4. Any identifying information about the parties and the child, including addresses, telephone numbers, places of
        employment, and schools, is confidential, should not be disclosed, and should be deleted from documents before
        releasing them to any court, attorney, attorney for the child, party, mediator, evaluator, mental health professional,
        social worker, or referring agency, except as required in reporting suspected child abuse.

    (Subd (j) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (g) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (h) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Confidentiality
    Communications between parties and providers of supervised visitation are not protected by any privilege of confidentiality.
    Professional providers should, whenever possible, maintain confidentiality regarding the case except when: 

    1. Ordered by the court;
    2. Subpoenaed to produce records or testify in court;
    3. Requested to provide information about the case by a mediator or evaluator in conjunction with a court-ordered
      mediation, investigation, or evaluation;
    4. Required to provide information about the case by Child Protective Services; or
    5. Requested to provide information about the case by law enforcement.

    (Subd (k) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (h) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (i) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Delineation of terms and conditions
        1. The provider bears the sole responsibility for enforcement of all the terms and conditions of any supervised visitation.Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the provider should implement the following terms and conditions:
        1. Monitor conditions to assure the safety and welfare of the child;
        2. Enforce the frequency and duration of the visits as ordered by the court;
        3. Avoid any attempt to take sides with either party;
        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;
        5. Speak in a language spoken by the child and the noncustodial party;
        6. Allow no derogatory comments about the other parent, his or her family, caretaker, child, or child’s siblings;
        7. Allow no discussion of the court case or possible future outcomes;
        8. Allow neither the provider nor the child to be used to gather information about the other party or caretaker or to transmit documents, information, or personal possessions;
        9. Allow no spanking, hitting, or threatening the child;
        10. Allow no visits to occur while the visiting party appears to be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs;
        11. Allow no emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse;
        12. Allow no contact between the custodial and noncustodial parents unless ordered by the court; and
        13. Ensure that the parties follow any additional rules sated by the provider or the court.

    (Subd (l) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (i) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (j) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Safety considerations for sexual abuse cases
    In cases where there are allegations of sexual abuse, in addition to the requirements of (l), the provider should comply with the following terms and conditions, unless otherwise ordered by the court: 

    1. Allow no exchanges of gifts, money, or cards;
    2. Allow no photographing, audiotaping, or videotaping of the child;
    3. Allow no physical contact with the child such as lap sitting, hair combing, sroking, hand holding, hugging, wresling,
      tickling, horseplaying, changing diapers, or accompanying the child to the bathroom;
    4. Allow no whispering, passing notes, hand signals, or body signals; and
    5. Allow no supervised visitation in the location where the alleged sexual abuse occurred.

    (Subd (m) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (j) efective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (k) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Legal responsibilities and obligations of a provider
    All nonprofessional providers of supervised visitation should, and all professional providers must: 

    1. Advise the parties before commencement of supervised visitation that no confidential privilege exists;
    2. Report suspected child abuse to the appropriate agency, as provided by law, and inform the parties of the provider’s
      obligation to make such reports; and
    3. Suspend or terminate visitation under (p).

    (Subd (n) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (k) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (l) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Additional legal responsibilities of professional providers
    In addition to the legal responsibilities and obligations required in (n), professional providers must: 

    1. Prepare a written contract to be signed by the parties before commencement of the supervised visitation. The contract
      should inform each party of the terms and conditions of supervised visitation; and
    2. Review cusody and visitation orders relevant to the supervised visitation.

    (Subd (o) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (l) efective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (m) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Temporary suspension or termination of supervised visitation
    1. All providers mus make every reasonable effort to provide a safe visit for the child and the noncustodial party
    2. However, if a provider determines that the rules of the visit have been violated, the child has become acutely disressed, or the safety of the child or the provider is at risk, the visit may be temporarily interrupted, rescheduled at a later date, or terminated.
    3. All interruptions or terminations of visits mus be recorded in the case file.
    4. All providers mus advise both parties of the reasons for interruption of a visit or termination.

    (Subd (p) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (m) efective January 1, 1998; previously amended
    and relettered as subd (n) effective January 1, 2007.)

  • Additional requirements for professional providers
    Professional providers mus sate the reasons for temporary suspension or termination of supervised visitation in writing and
    provide the written statement to both parties, their attorneys, the attorney for the child, and the court.
    (Subd (q) amended and relettered effective January 1, 2015; adopted as subd (n) effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and
    relettered as subd (o) effective January 1, 2007.)
  • Informational materials; procedures
    1. Each court is encouraged to make available to all providers informational materials about the role of a provider, the
      terms and conditions of supervised visitation, and the legal responsibilities and obligations of a provider under this
      standard.
    2.  By January 1, 2022, each court mus develop and adopt local rules that establish procedures for processing and
      maintaining: 

      1. Declaration of Supervised Visitation Provider (Professional) (form FL-324(P)), along with the professional
        provider’s original report required in (j)(3) of this standard; and
      2. The nonprofessional supervised visitation provider’s declaration regarding qualifcations, whether the provider
        uses the court’s local form or Declaration of Supervised Visitation Provider (Nonprofessional) (form FL-324(NP)).

(Subd (r) adopted effective January 1, 2021.)

Standard 5.20 amended effective January 1, 2021; adopted as sec. 26.2 effective January 1, 1998; previously amended and renumbered
effective January 1, 2007; previously amended effective January 1, 2015.