Supervised Visitation and Child Exchange
Supervised Visitation is conducted in situations when a non-custodial parent and one or more children are required by the court or DCFS to be in the presence of a third person observer to ensure the safety family members.
Supervised Child Exchange is supervision of the transfer of the child from one parent to the other. Supervision is limited to the exchange or transfer only with the remainder of the parent/child contact remaining unsupervised. Most frequently precautions are taken to assure that the two parents or other individuals exchanging the child do not come into contact with one another.
What are the benefits?
Both Supervised Visits and Supervised Exchanges are designed to assure that a child can have safe contact with a parent and avoid exposure to parental conflicts or other problems. The best interest of the child is paramount in making any decisions regarding the need for such supervision. However, there are also some significant benefits to parents. It is our hope that no one will look upon supervised visitation or exchange as a negative or stigmatized service. It is a tool that can help families as they go through difficult and/or transitional times. Some of the benefits for the various family members are as follows:
For the children:
- It allows the child to maintain a relationship with both of their parents, something that is generally found to be an important factor in the positive adjustment to family dissolution.
- It allows them to anticipate visits without stress or worry, easing transition anxiety as they move between parents. It helps the child predict what will happen, feel safe, comfortable, and avoid being put in the middle of their parents’ conflict and/or other problems.
For the custodial parents:
- You do not have to communicate or have contact with a person with whom you are in conflict or by whom you might be frightened or intimidated. All arrangements can be made by the professional assigned to your case, and contact may be avoided before, during, or after the visits.
- You can relax and feel comfortable while still supporting your child to have contact with the other parent.
- You can get some valuable time to yourself.
For the non-custodial parents:
- You can be sure that your contact with your child is not 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 new accusations because there is someone present who can verify what happened during your time together. When using a professional service, you can also be assured that the supervisors are neutral and objective.
Supervision in the case of parental separation:
When parents separate, the child often has primary residence with one parent and regularly spend time with the other. Visitation, contact, and access are words used to refer to post-separation contact with the non-residential parent or another significant person, such as a grandparent, sibling, or other relatives. When the courts feel it is appropriate, they may order that such visitation take place in the presence of a third party or parents may choose to use this option for their own peace of mind.
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 is always best for the child to not be put into a situation where he/she is exposed to the anger and conflict of the parents.
Supervision in the case of out-of-home placement:
When a child has been placed out of the home and is transitioning into the home, supervised visitation is often used in order to make a smooth and safe transition from the placement back into the family home.