Supervised Visitation

Fighting over child

Supervised visitation is a way that a non-custodial parent can spend time with his or her children without the situation being uncomfortable, threatening or dangerous for the custodial parent or the child involved.

About Supervised Visitation

This type of visitation may be ordered by the court in a situation where there is a history of domestic violence. Many victims report that the cycle of abuse doesn't end when they leave their abuser. Threats and intimidation may continue, and the time when the child is dropped off or picked up for visitation is a time when the abuser can make the victim feel uncomfortable or even threatened.

The non-custodial parent may use his or her visitation times as an opportunity to attempt to abduct the child. Having supervised visitation is a way for these concerns to be addressed without denying the non-custodial parent time with the child.

How the Visitation Works

With this type of visitation arrangement, a third party is present during the time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. This person is at the location where the visit will take place to ensure that the child is safe.

Child welfare agencies usually take on this role, and the visit between the parent and the child may take place on a one-on-one basis in a room with one person supervising what is going on. Another option is for several sets of parents and children to visit in a large room with more than one worker in place.

For this type of visitation arrangement to be successful, the workers must be trained in how to deal with situations where the child's or parent's safety may be threatened. They must also be trained in domestic violence and how it affects children and the family as a whole.

Security During a Supervised Visit

When supervised visitation is ordered, the agency providing the worker and the location should make sure that it has measures in place to make dropping off and picking up the child a smooth process. The procedure should be set up so that there is minimal, if any, contact between the two parents.

One way to deal with the security issue is to have the custodial parent drop off the child 15 minutes before the start of the visit and leave the premises immediately. The non-custodial parent will then be required to stay in the room for 15 minutes after the child has been picked up and the custodial parent has left.

Separate entrances and waiting rooms for custodial and non-custodial parents is another strategy that agencies providing this type of service can use to deal with security concerns from victims of domestic violence. Both parents should be prepared to comply with a weapons-screening process on arrival. Staff members should take steps to ensure that personal information, such as the victim's address, phone number and workplace, remains confidential.

Reports to the Court

Once supervised visitation has been ordered, the agency should report back to the court on a regular basis and provide the following information:

  • Names of participants (parents and child or children involved)
  • Court docket number
  • Visitation schedule
  • Number of missed visits or times when a parent was late
  • Description of activities the parent and child engaged in during the visit
  • Any interventions by agency staff during the visit, including the reason for them

Supervised visitation is a way that a non-custodial parent can spend time with his or her child in a safe and controlled environment. In a situation where there is a history of abuse, the victim and the abuser do not have to be in contact with each other in order for the children to spend time with each parent.

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Supervised Visitation