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.