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      Supervised Visitation Monitoring Professional Services

          What is Supervised Visitation? 
 It is the contact between a noncustodial party with one or more children in the presence of a neutral third person.  This neutral third person is called a "monitor." 

          Who orders Supervised Visitation?
Typically, a Family Law/Juvenile Law judge or governmental agency.   The Court Order may state who will supervise the visits, the time and length of the visits and where the visits will take place.

          Why Supervised Visitation??
Here is a partial list of why some judges order monitoring:

To help reintroduce a parent to a child after a long absence from the child’s life.
To help introduce a parent and a child when there has been no prior relationship between the parent and the child.
When there are issues of mental illness, domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, or drug or alcohol abuse.
When there are parenting concerns.
When there is a threat of kidnapping.
To give the parent a chance to show they are capable of appropriate parenting.

Responsibilities of the Monitor
1. Keep the child safe, protect, nurture and restore the parent-child relationships.
2. Make sure that the child is free from unnecessary stress.
3. Be present at all times during the visit, within earshot/eyesight.  Do not leave the child alone with the supervised parent at any time.  This includes accompanying a young child to the bathroom.
Listen to what is being said.  Whispering and quiet talking between the child and the supervised parent is not permitted.
4. Pay close attention to the child’s behavior and emotions.
5. If necessary, interrupt or end a visit.

Rules for the Non-custodial Parent
1. Arrive and depart on time.
2. Do not use profanity.
3. Do not smoke/drink alcohol/use drugs before/during visit.
4. Do not use cell phones during visit.
5. Do not bring knives or guns.
6. Do not bring other guests to the visit.
7. Make no threats or negative remarks about anyone.
8. Do not discuss custody, divorce or support issues.

Tips for the Non-custodial Parent
Recognize that being with your child in the presence of someone else may be uncomfortable but it will get easier.
Do not quiz your child about the other parent’s private life, activities and relationships.
Do not make your child a “messenger” to the other parent.
Focus on your relationship with your child:  so turn off your cell phone.
Do not make promises to your child about future gifts, trips, visits, or changes in custody.  This may cause a lack of trust and unnecessary hurt.
Understand that no corporal punishment, slapping, hitting or pushing is permitted during the visit.
Say brief and positive good-byes.
Understand that your love, patience and commitment will pay off and help you have a better relationship with your child in the future.

Rules for the Custodial Parent
It is also important for the parent who has primary legal and physical custody of the child to be appropriately prepared for the child’s visit with the other parent:
Understand that supervised custody can also be a challenge for them.
Be aware that you have been taking care of your child and have a routine and this change in routines can be upsetting to everyone.
Understand that supervised visitation can sometimes feel like one more responsibility.
Recognize your child may ask difficult and important questions surrounding a visit and try to understand how they will affect your child
Recognize these visits are for the best interests of your child.

Tips for the Custodial Parent
Have the child ready on time and be prompt.
Reassure the child that you support them in having a pleasant visit with the other parent.
Do not linger and create an emotional, stressful drop off.
Do not quiz the child about the visit.
Do not make the child a messenger to the other parent.
Do not add stress to the child.

Tips for the Child by the Custodial Parent
Keep the same drop-off routine.
When arriving at visitation location, encourage child to have a good time with the other parent.
How long the visit will last.
Where the custodial parent will be.
Familiar way of releasing the child to monitor.

Tips for the Child by the Non-Custodial Parent
A familiar way of greeting.
A standard way of saying it is time to start the visit.
A routine way of preparing the child for the end of the visit.
An agreed upon signal for ending the visit, saying good-bye and leaving.

Tips for Both Parents
Supervised monitoring can be difficult and uncomfortable at times. Parents feel they should not be monitored and can be resentful. Parents can be reminded that this is usually a temporary setup and it provides an opportunity to let the judge and all parties involved know that they are able to be a positive influence in their child's life. Hurt and angry feelings between the parents should not be conveyed to the children. Children benefit from having the love, care and support of both parents even if their parents are not together.

Parents should be encouraged to develop rituals for these transitions, much the way many parents do for bedtimes or for leaving children at day care or at school.

Many children are hyper alert to their parents’ situations and moods and are almost always aware of the conflict.

Many children have been overburdened by being told too much and need help to establish boundaries and distance from the parents’ disputes.

The No Show Parent
Do not tell the child about an upcoming visit you are not certain if the non-custodial parent will show up.  You do more harm by “preparing” them for the upcoming visit, if it never happens.

Interventions and Ending a Visit
When a child shows symptoms of distress, it may be necessary to suspend the visit until the situation can be assessed and the parents or the court makes a determination about future physical custodial rules or whether to terminate future contact.
The monitor must terminate the visit if the interactions between the supervised parent and the child have become inappropriate, and rules are not followed or if the situation becomes difficult and report the behavior back to the custodial parent, the agency or the Court.
The monitor should end a supervised visit at any time if the following occurs:
The child appears acutely distressed.
A parent is not following the rules.
The child is at risk of imminent harm, either emotionally or physically.

Changes to Supervised Visitation
After visits are going well, the Court might order that the visiting parent can start exercising physical custodial time with their child without supervision.
It is also possible that the supervised visits will be terminated, shortened or rules changed if it is not going well.
When changes like this occur, preparing the child for these changes is important. 
Explaining why the changes are being made is important so the child is not scared, does not attribute the change to something they have done wrong.

Remember the Goals for a Successful Visit
Improved parenting skills for the visiting parent.
Improved parent-child relationship.
Conflict-free experience for everyone.
A safe and secure setting where the child and their parents visit under the guidance of a trusted person.
That the child feels emotionally and physically safe during the visit.
Improved level of trust between the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent.
Reduced conflict and hostility between parents.
Increased time between non-custodial parent and the child in the future.
Progress towards non-supervised visitation.