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There’s just no way to sugarcoat this: Being given only supervised visitation with your children is demoralizing and frustrating. That’s particularly true if you think (or know) that the requirement is unfair.

Railing against the judge in your case won’t help you. Judges often act out of an abundance of caution for a child’s safety, so you can get saddled with supervised visitation over mere allegations that you’re abusive, an addict or have a mental disorder that could put your children at risk. Eventually, you’ll have a chance to refute the allegations, but right now you’re stuck.

So, how do you make the best of a bad situation? Turn things to your advantage and show the court that supervised visitation isn’t required with the following tips:

  1. Show up on time, every time: You are definitely being observed, so remember how your actions look to other people. Being on time shows that you’re invested in your relationship with your children and value your time with them.
  2. Remember why you are there: Put down your cellphone and focus on the kids. Bring something to do with them, even if it’s just a book or a game. Do not engage the person supervising the visits with talk about your custody case or your feelings about visitation.
  3. Do not disparage your children’s other parent: This is critical, because anything negative you say to your children or in front of them will probably be reported back to the court. That can be used as evidence that you’re not willing to nurture your children’s relationship with that parent and will hurt your case.

Talk over your situation with an experienced advocate to see what other steps they recommend. Your custody case isn’t over just because the court has put temporary restrictions on your visitation, so don’t give up.