Thursday, April 5, 2012

An Attorney's Perspective

In addition to owning and operating Children First, I am a Seattle attorney who has been specializing in family law  matters since 1997. Between these two pillars of my professional background, there are a few observations about supervised visitation and exchange that I want to take a moment to share.

Court Orders:  There are two words that need to be kept in mind when writing a court order - clarity and precision.  Many court orders I review for supervised visitation or exchanges leave alot to be decided by the parties.  Generally speaking, this is not good.  The more specific you are in the order, the less opportunity there is for one of the parties to delay visitations/exchanges because of the lack of clarity or specificity. 

In other words, be sure to answer where visits are to occur, specifically when they can occur (frequency and length), who can attend,  who pays, who gets to choose the agency that will supervise, etc.  There should also be an overriding sentence that addresses what will happen if there is an impass other than having to return to court.  Oftentimes, deferring to the supervising agency is a good way to resolve issues without having to go back to court.

Supervisor:  The purpose of having a supervisor for visitation is to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of the child/ren is protected.  Many parents believe that the supervisor is there to make judgments about one parent or if befriended, will help them in their case against their spouse/former spouse.  The supervisor is an objective third party whose job is to accurately report what transpired during the visit.

A good supervisor is like a referee you do not even know is present during a sporting event.  They are there in case something goes wrong, but otherwise they simply blend into the scene.

At Children First, one of the principle advantages we can offer is perspective.  As an attorney with 15 years of experience, I fully understand that supervised visits and exchanges are the place and moment when a series of personal, legal, and emotional decisions collide. That is why I am proud to work with a fabulous group of trained social workers who I believe are the truly the best in the business.

Friday, February 10, 2012

In the wake of the Powell tragedy

First and foremost, our hearts go out to everyone affected by this horrific event.  There are many questions that will never be answered and so many shattered lives and dreams.

For those left wanting to learn more about supervised visits than this blog has provided to date, I've provided this link to an Everett Herald article that helps explain the differences between DSHS supervised visits (dependency cases) and Family Law cases.

Our agency requires that both parties agree to use our service and abide by our rules.  As a community based agency, we offer visits in the community, at homes, in public places and the like.  The bottom line for Children First is that both parties have to agree upon the location.

Our agency realizes that supervised visits are frequently stressful for everyone involved. That is one of the key reasons that we only use trained, experienced social workers to conduct all of our supervised visits.  One of our primary goals, in addition to the health, safety and welfare of the child/ren, is to try to ease the stress involved in these situations and to provide a positive environment for the non-custodial parent and child/ren to visit.