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An overview of supervised visitation programs

A Massachusetts parent who has been a victim of abuse at the hands of the child's other parent may be fearful of having to interact with that individual during future visitation dates. The potential for continued abuse is also an important concern to courts that are determining visitation schedules in child custody cases. Supervised visitation may be ordered if there are risks for a child or the custodial parent during these times. This is a program devised to ensure the safety of a child as time is spent with a parent.

Different types of supervised visitation settings are often available, and it is helpful to seek a service that specifically addresses situations in which domestic abuse has been an issue. In some cases, a center that offers various visitation services may have a program specifically tailored to this need. There may also be programs that are designed to build the relationship between a parent and child or that model parenting skills in the supervised setting.

It is helpful to recognize that the skills and experience of those overseeing visitation appointments may vary quite a bit. If the parent who has physical custody is concerned that abusive behavior might occur during a visit, then it may be important to find a service that is staffed by individuals who can be firm if the visiting party attempts to manipulate the situation. It is also important to review safety rules and procedures to ensure that the child is protected while visiting the other parent.

It is possible for a judge to order supervised visitation with a family member as the overseer in some situations. Experienced legal counsel may be important for addressing the potential risks if the individual selected to supervise is not likely to prohibit abusive activity.

Source: Futures Without Violence, "Supervised Visitation Programs: Information for Mothers Who Have Experienced Abuse," 2007

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