Parents’ Questions about Supervised Visitation
Hannah’s House provides services to diverse families. One type of family we serve involves parents who are going through Family Court and are deeply affected by the breakup of their family. They are often confused and stressed when they receive court orders for supervised visitation or safe exchanges. These court orders are not easily understood or implemented.
Most parents turn to the Program Resource List provided online by the San Diego Superior Court for providers. Although there are legal requirements set forth in the California Standards and codified in our Family Code, the San Diego County Court does not request proof of any of these legal requirements, leaving parents vulnerable to inconsistent and substandard levels of service.
Parents are encouraged to review and understand the California laws and standards related to providers of supervised visitation in California. Education and orientation to court-ordered services is not provided by the Court, so it is up to you to become an informed consumer asking the most important questions as you vet providers for any court-ordered services.
What is the role of the Professional Provider of Supervised Visitation, who are typically referred to as “Supervisors” or “Monitors?” First and foremost, Supervisors are neutrals in accordance with the law and standards. This means that the Supervisor must establish rapport and basic trust with each parent without bias or prejudice. The professional must then ensure neutrality in all aspects of their service delivery going forward
All too often, parents seeking supervised visitation services have just come out of an adversarial litigation experience where they may have felt traumatized by the process. Litigation often feels like a war or, at least, a competition where one side ‘wins’ and one side ‘loses.’
Sometimes the ‘winner’ comes out of court with the idea that they are in control of the court orders, as they don’t understand that the judge has made orders that require both parents to follow laws and cooperate with any court-ordered services for the purpose of ensuring the child has a relationship with each of his or her parents. This supportive yet neutral orientation process is another important aspect of the Supervisor role.
Sometimes the ‘loser’ comes out of court feeling angry, ashamed, humiliated, or depressed. Some parents feel as if they are being treated like a criminal and assume that providers will look at them in this light. It is the role of the Supervisor to help parents understand that the judge has made orders that require both parents to follow orders, laws and cooperate with the Supervisor for the purpose of co-parenting the child. This balance and neutrality provides both parents with a good foundation for the next steps.
In other words, the judge has made orders that accord rights and responsibilities for parenting and co-parenting that apply equally to both parents.
At Hannah’s House, we focus on several important factors to accomplish our goals of building rapport and establishing basic trust with each parent; and then providing professional and accurate forensic services. We create an environment of safety, security, and well-being with the child as our primary focus and then that of the parents.
- Controlling for bias
- Preventing conflict of interest and the appearance of conflict of interest
- Clear policies and procedures
- Team approach
- Forensic reports and record keeping
- Grievance policy/procedure
If you are interested in the details of these, feel free to read our additional blogs on Key Factors for Professionalized Supervised Visitation Services to learn more about each of these factors and discuss the policies, procedures and rationale for each one of them.