What is “Monitored” or “Supervised” Visitation?
Visitation, of course, is when a parent or family member gets to spend time with a child.
Sometimes a family court may feel that visits are good, but … it is not safe for the child to be alone with the visiting person. There can be many reasons for this.
To protect the child’s best interest, the court might order that the visit be watched over by someone else. That’s “monitored” or “supervised” visitation, when a third person has to be present during the visit.
Who Can Serve As A Visitation Supervisor or Monitor?
Often a family member or a friend may be chosen to supervise the visits and make sure everything goes well. But sometimes there’s no suitable person who is willing or able to do this. What happens then?
In some cases, the court may order that the visits take place at a “Monitored Visitation Center.” These are agencies that provide a professional service to monitor or supervise visits. There are many places that provide this service in West Virginia. Some places will perform full supervision of visits. Some other centers will only serve as a safe place for parties to exchange the children without arguments or confrontation.
What is the difference between “monitored” and “supervised”?
In court, the words “monitored” and “supervised” often mean the same thing.
However, sometimes the court will use the term “monitored” to refer to something different than “supervised”.
In that situation “monitored” means that another person will be in the same home or building during visits, but not necessarily in the same room actually observing all interactions.
“Supervision” means someone is actually in the same room with the child at all times, watching the visit.
Be sure you understand exactly which meaning the court has ordered in your case.
Why would the court order monitored or supervised visitation or exchanges?
Suppose there is a lot of anger between parents. It is likely that the parties will argue in front of the children, and that’s not good for anyone. Monitored exchanges can help assure that there are no outbursts or confrontations.
Suppose there has been domestic violence in the past. One party has been violent to the other, who is now afraid of the first party. The court may order monitored or supervised visits or exchanges, to protect against any new episode of domestic violence or abuse.
Suppose a parent has a history of drug or alcohol abuse. The court may order supervised visits so a neutral person can stop the visit if the parent shows up under the influence.
Suppose one party has made threats to take the children and never return them. The Family Judge may believe there is real reason to fear the possibility. Monitored visitation can help stop this from happening.
How do I request that visitation or exchanges be monitored or supervised?
You will have to explain to the Family Judge why monitored or supervised visitation should be required. If there has been a history of the problems we just described, you’ll need to bring evidence to prove what you’re saying.
It is best to have an attorney with you in court. Even without a lawyer, say in court that you want the other parent to have monitored or supervised visitation and why.
Also, know who you want to supervise the visitation. Be ready to tell the judge why that person is suitable and responsible. That person also needs to be someone that the other side can trust.
If you think a Monitored Visitation Center is the only available alternative, you should contact the Center ahead of time to find out what needs to be done.
Does a supervised or monitored visitation or exchange have to be ordered by the court?
A judge may order:
- supervised visitation;
- monitored visitation;
- supervised exchanges; and/or
- monitored exchanges
A person can get these services without a court order as well. Parents can call a center directly to set up visits or exchanges.
How do I set up a monitored or supervised visitation or exchanges?
Call the center listed below that is closest to you. If you do not see an exchange center near you, call DHHR to find out if there is a center in your area.
Each center is different. Ask if there are costs. The center you contact will tell you about any steps you need to take.
If there is no Visitation Center in your area, you can ask to the court to order that exchanges take place at another place such as a local police department.
List of Certified Monitored and/or Supervised Visitation Programs in West Virginia:
- Beckley-Family Options (304) 254-9610
- Bridgeport-Family Options (304) 692-1575
- Burlington-Burlington United Methodist Family Services (304) 289-6010
- Charleston-YWCA (304) 610-9118
- Fayetteville-Women’s Resource Center Family Visitation Center (304) 255-2559
- Harrisville-Family Crisis Intervention Center Kids First Program (304) 428-1467
- Hurricane-Children First (304) 553-1055
- Lewisburg-Family Refuge Center-The Family Visitation Center (304) 645-6334
- Martinsburg-Shenandoah Women’s Center Monitored Visitation Center of the Eastern Panhandle (304) 263-8292
- Moundsville-YWCA of Wheeling – Family Violence Prevention Program Visitation Center (304) 232-2748
- New Martinsville-YWCA of Wheeling– Family Violence Prevention Program Visitation Center (304) 232-2748
- Parkersburg-Family Crisis Intervention Center Kids First Program (304) 428-1467
- Oak Hill -A Place to Grow (304) 469-6687
- Princeton-The Children’s Home Society of West Virginia– Princeton Family Visitation Center (304) 425-8428
- Spencer-Family Crisis Intervention Center Kids First Program (304) 428-1467
- Wheeling-YWCA of Wheeling– Family Violence Prevention Program Visitation Center (304) 845-9120
- Union-Family Refuge Center-The Family Visitation Center (304) 645-6334