Quick topic links:

Monitored vs. Supervised · Effects of Conflict on Children · Initiating Services

Supervised Visitation

We provide Supervised Visitation primarily in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties. Services in other areas of north Texas are available on a case by case basis.

An Overview of Supervised Visitation

"Supervised Visitation refers to contact between a non-custodial parent and one or more children in the presence of a third person responsible for observing and seeking to ensure the safety of those involved."

From the SVN's "Questions Parents Ask"

Forensic Counseling Services is committed to providing services consistent with recognized professional standards for supervised visitation. We coordinate professionally trained staff supervising visits in the community, often at a parent's home or other child-friendly location. All case management and administrative functions are handled through our main office. Our goal in providing Supervised Visitation is to minimize the emotional hardship that children frequently have to endure as a result of custody litigation, while allowing them to maintain safe and positive contact with their parents and other significant relatives.

While there may be many allegations made between parents in custody litigation, the staff at Forensic Counseling Services strive to provide a neutral, non-judgmental, and respectful environment for parents who use our services. We do provide referral services for issues related to domestic violence, substance abuse, and other difficulties that might impair a parent's relationship with their children, however our focus in providing Supervised Visitation is on ensuring that children can have safe and positive contact with their parents.

Differences between "monitored" and "supervised" visitation

Many people talk about "supervised" vists where a relative or friend watches the parent-child interactions from a distance. This is helpful for many families, and often is all that is needed to provide safety. While we can provide this type of monitoring, there is more to supervision than just being nearby. Supervision is described extensively in our guidelines for service, but most importantly our supervisors should be able to hear and see everything that occurs between the parent and children in order to intervene when needed. This is the core of what differentiates our services from providers who do not actually supervise all parent and child contact during what they call "supervised" visits. We refer to this latter style of service as "monitored" visits - the professional neutral distantly monitors what is occurring, but is not directly supervising and may not be able to appropriately intervene as a result.

We draw these distinctions because there are professional ethical standards for supervised visitation, and if we are not meeting those standards then I do not believe it is appropriate to call the service supervised visitation. There are certainly many instances where monitored visits may be an appropriate level of service, such as when the main concern might be a parent departing the designated visitation location, or the ability of the neutral to intervene if there is an obvious conflict between parent and child. The vast majority of our cases, however, involve issues where there is concern about possible emotional or physical abuse of the children, the sharing of inappropriate adult information with the children, or other interactions where a close level of scrutiny is needed.

There are some circumstances that almost inherently prevent proper supervision. Examples of these include swimming in large pools and ice or roller skating - our supervisors are unable to involve themselves directly in such activities, and watching such activities transpire from the sidelines when both parent and child are in a pool or a skating rink may leave supervisors unable to hear (and at times see) interactions. Generally under supervised visitation when families want to engage in such activities the parent will stay at the edge of the activity with the supervisor, rather than fully participating. Often this is sufficient for the parent, who may have typically just sat with their feet in the water at a pool, or cheered the children on from the side of the rink even if unsupervised.

Effects of Conflict on Children

The statistics regarding the effects of family conflict (both physical and emotional) on children are staggering. 43% of all critical injuries and child fatalities occur in homes where there is spousal abuse [The Family Place Community Report]. Children who witness or are subjected to emotional or physical violence are at risk for developmental delays, lack of social competency, and poor impulse control and anger management skills. They may feel isolated from friends and family and guilty over irrational feelings of responsibility for the family difficulties. They can be confused, angry, nervous, or attention seeking - often all at the same time. Abused and neglected children are 6 times more likely to commit suicide, 50 times more likely to abuse alcohol or other drugs, and 74 times more likely to engage in crimes against persons than their non-abused counterparts [The Heritage Foundation "The Child Abuse Crisis: The Disintegration of Marriage, Family, and the American Community].

Supervised Visitation exists to serve as a prevention program. Regardless of the nature of the allegations involved in the custody litigation, we try to help children remain safe and secure, while still maintaining contact with the parents and family members they love. Parents can prevent revisiting disputes with former partners and escape conflict by avoiding direct confrontation with the other party in the litigation. Children can avoid watching their parents continue the difficulties which may have been the cause for their separation in the first place, and stay out of the middle of the adult disputes which may be continuing in the courthouse.

Initiating Services

We provide Supervised Visitation for clients who have either been ordered by the court to participate or have a formal written agreement for supervised contact.

The first step in registration is to obtain a court order or agreement for all parties to utilize our Supervised Visitation services. The order or agreement should specifically name "Forensic Counseling Services" as the supervision provider. Click here for a quick reference page on what the order should cover.

The next step is to download and complete the various intake forms. If you are unable to download these forms they can be faxed to you or your attorney.

After you have completed the intake forms, mail them to us along with your registration fees and a copy of the court order or agreement for services. See our contact page for our mailing address. We will contact you to schedule an appointment for an orientation session. Due to the discussion of adult information during orientation children may not be present during the orientation session.

Once all parties have completed registration, we will schedule a Supervised Visitation session based on our supervisors' availability and the court order or agreement.

Any changes to the schedule by the parties, once a regular appointment time is established, must be court ordered or agreed on between the parties.

If we are providing Supervised Visitation services we cannot serve as a mediator or intermediary between parents who request changes in scheduled visitation. We also cannot serve in any other role for the family (Parenting Coordinator, Social Study Evaluator, etc.).

Please be advised that we may not be able to accommodate all requests for schedule changes due to the other cases we are also providing services for.