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Supervised Visitation and Monitored Exchanges
Family court can be a confusing place. When kids are in the middle of conflict, especially when they are in any potential or perceived danger, supervised visitation may be necessary. This is an arrangement where they are allowed to spend time with a non-custodial parent only under supervision. The person supervising is usually a social worker, psychologist, or other court appointed guardian who is charged with protecting the child's rights.
Although many parents and grandparents assume that visitation is a right, it is actually a privilege that the court has the power to revoke in executing its duty to act in the best interests of the child. A common reason for limited or supervised visitation is in cases where there has been a history of domestic violence.
In a highly contentious divorce, monitored exchanges may be appropriate. In a monitored exchanged the parents agree to prearranged times for the custodial parent or guardian to take the child to a neutral meeting place where the visiting parent picks up and drops off the child. The drop off and pick up times can be staggered so that parents don't have to see one another. This can save the child the stress of witnessing parents in conflict.
Interview with an Expert
I spoke with social worker, Lara Sandusky to find out what parents and others need to know about supervised visitation.
LD: What is Supervised Visitation?
LS: Supervised Visitation refers to contact between a non-custodial parent and one or more children in the presence of a third person responsible for observing and seeking to ensure the safety of those involved. As defined by the Supervised Visitation Network.
Most clients who receive these services are non-custodial parents or guardians and are court ordered to do so.
LD: What options do parents have for Supervised Visitation arrangements?
LS: Unfortunately, in many states their options are limited. AVEC is the primary resource for Supervised Visitation and/or Exchanges. However, a parent might be able to convince a friend and/or relative to assist with monitoring (if that person is deemed "neutral" by the court).
Time wise, most visits will occur after school and work hours (evening) and weekends.
LD: Who is appropriate to provide supervision in these situations?
LS: Visitation Supervisors are neutral and as such are able to provide an independent assessment of the parent/child interaction to the court or other involved professionals. It is important that someone NOT related to either parent or have a vested interest in either parents custody arrangement supervise the visits. Often times when family members or friends supervise visitations, the court and others question that person's neutrality which can have an adverse effect of the court case.