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Supervised Visitation: What Courts Should Know When Working With Supervised Visitation Programs

NCJ Number
Samantha Moore; Kathryn Ford
Date Published
9 pages
This paper from the Center for Court Innovation examines best practices used by supervised visitation programs around the country.
Supervised visitation is defined as "contact between a non-custodial parent and his or her child in the presence of a third party who observes the visit and ensures the child's safety." This type of visitation is extremely important, especially in cases involving domestic violence, where the battered spouses are often subjected to severe psychological abuse or threats during visitation and exchanges. This paper argues that visitation supervised by a neutral, professional third party is the optimal choice for courts and courts should order agency-based visitation in cases where concerns for the safety of the children and/or the custodial parent are involved. The paper examines several best practices that have been used in supervised visitation programs around the country. These best practices include improved communication between the court and program staff; improved security by establishing partnerships between local law enforcement agencies and program staff to ensure the safety and well-being of domestic violence survivors and their children during supervised visits; and providing ongoing training for program staff regarding the unique dangers raised by domestic violence perpetrators, and holding cross trainings for program staff, law enforcement personnel, and others involved in domestic violence issues. By following these recommendations, supervised visitation programs may be able to minimize the risk of further violence to domestic violence victims and their families.