Securing Supervised Visitation of Your Child by Your Former Spouse
In situations of physical or emotional abuse of a spouse and children, supervised visitation is an appropriate and necessary remedy for the safeguarding and protection of all involved parties. In such situations, the tool of supervised visitation helps to lessen the trauma and anxiety of a parent's visits on the other parent and especially upon the children. Additionally, supervised visitation helps to provide needed and missing structure from the visiting parent's time with his or her children.
Often, a court order is required in order to put supervised visitation into place. Supervised visitation sites and their accompanying programs are already established in most jurisdictions. Participation in the supervised visitation process is usually free to participants and their families. Some agencies providing the service may charge fees, so up-front investigation and inquiry is prudent.
The times for supervised visitation are often proscribed in the court order that establishes the visitation rights. The times of the parties' arrivals are staggered so that parents embroiled or emerging from contentious divorce proceedings or involved in a previously abusive relationship do not have to confront one another in order to carry out the child's visitation schedule with the other parent. Non-custodial parents arriving at supervision sites meet with a counselor in a room at the designated site. Once all of the parties are settled and relaxed, the supervised visitation can commence. The amount of time for the supervised visit is set forth in the applicable court order, as well.
Aside from the presence of the counselor and the designation of the visitation site, the non-custodial parent is free to visit, play, relate, socialize, and share time with his or her child or children just as he or she would normally, outside of the supervised visitation process. The counselor's presence is required mainly to ensure that the environment remains free from abuse, bad behavior, or any type of threatening situation to the child or children. Counselors supervising visitation sessions have been granted the authority by the family courts to end visits when any type of inappropriate or harmful situation occurs.
The overall goal of supervised visitation is to restore a sense of stability to the family and to preserve whatever family unity might exist for the sake of both the children and parents. The cooperation and participation of the custodial parent is paramount to the overall success of the program. Often, one of the hardest challenges facing a family attempting to put a supervised visitation program in place is overcoming the distrust and hesitancy of the custodial parent, particularly after instances of prior abuse. The counselor's role and presence, and the terms and provisions of the court order, can assist in overcoming these challenges.