Visitation & Exchange
When parents separate, the children most often will have primary residence with one parent and regularly spend time with the other. Visitation, contact and access are words used to describe post-separation contact with the non-residential parent or another significant person, such as another family member. When the court deems it appropriate, it may order that such visitation takes place in the presence of a third party.
Simply put, a Supervised Visit is contact between a parent and one or more children with a third person present to ensure the safety of those involved. Such a visit may also be referred to as Monitored Visitation, Supervised Child Access or Supervised Child Contact, but all mean the same thing.
Supervised Exchanges, also known as Monitored Exchanges or Supervised/Monitored Transfers, is the supervision of the transfer of a child from one parent to the other. Only the exchange or transfer is supervised; the remaining time shared during parent/child contact is unsupervised. Precautions are taken to ensure that the two adults exchanging the child have no contact with each other.
Participants in the program are usually court-referred and must complete an orientation before visits or exchanges can begin. Supervised visits are scheduled for 90 minutes and are subject to available scheduled times and dates.
The Supervised Visitation program allows a child to have safe contact with their mother or father without being caught in the middle of the parents’ conflicts. The child’s needs come first when decisions are made regarding supervision, but parents can benefit, too. We’ve created the program to be a positive experience and one that can help families find their way through difficult times.
Supervised Exchanges may be court-ordered or arranged by the parent, and are generally appropriate when there is no question about the safety of the child but when one or both parents do not feel safe or comfortable interacting directly with the other. It’s always better for the child to not be put into a situation where he or she is exposed to the parents’ conflicts.
Benefits for children
Children can maintain their vital relationship with both of their parents, an important factor in the successful adjustment to family dissolution. It lets children look forward to visiting their parents in an environment of security and comfort, without the pressure of parents’ conflicts or problems.
Benefits for both parents
Visitation arrangements are made through our staff, so you don’t have to have any contact before, during or after the visit with a person with whom you are in conflict or by whom you may be frightened or intimidated. In the safe atmosphere provided by the Supervised Visitation program, you can allow your child to have contact with the other parent without worry, and have some time for yourself.
You can be sure that your contact with your children won’t be interrupted, regardless of any personal or interpersonal problems you may be having. If allegations have been made against you, which is often the case when supervision is ordered, you can visit without fear of any further accusations arising from the visit because someone else is present who can verify what happened during your time together. You also can be assured that Family Nurturing Center supervisors are always neutral and objective.
Supervision in the case of out-of-home placement
When a child comes under the jurisdiction of Child Protective Services and is removed from the home because of a risk of child abuse or neglect, it is usually important that the relationship between the parent and the child continues. Child Protective Services generally provides these services, but may have limited resources that restrict the frequency, duration and nature of the contact. In some areas, they have found it useful to contract with outside supervised visitation programs to provide services.
Since supervision in the case of out-of-home placement is generally controlled very closely by the state or local Child Protective Services regulations, the information here applies primarily to supervision in the case of parent supervision.
Reasons to use a professional service
Often there is nothing to prohibit you from using a “non-professional” relative, friend, or acquaintance. Many court orders will allow that as an option, providing both parents can agree on whom to use. That often does not work out for the following reasons:
First and foremost is the difficulty in finding someone on whom you both agree. If you are having sufficient conflict that supervision was deemed necessary, then chances are very slim you will be able to find an individual both of you will trust and feel comfortable with. Secondly, it puts a real strain on friendships. Many well-meaning friends and relatives will agree to provide the service but will quickly tire of the regular commitment and/or being in the middle of your conflicts. It is difficult for friends and relatives to restrain from taking sides. Once neutrality is lost, then the credibility of the “supervisor” will come into question and much of the feeling of security and safety will be gone. And, finally, it may actually detract from the quality of the parent/child time together. It is often tempting to spend time interacting with the acquaintance rather than focusing on the child. Children may then come to resent the visits because they feel that they are secondary and not primary in the interaction.