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.

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 written agreement for all parties to utilize our supervised visitation services. The document should specifically name "Forensic Counseling Services" as the supervision provider, along with outlining details for the visits. Download our quick reference page on what the order or agreement should cover, or click here for a sample order. For clients with questions regarding appropriate location options, please review our information on choosing a location.

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 should not be present during the orientation session. It is up to the children's caregivers to explain supervised visits to the children involved. For caregives with questions about this, we have general information available about preparing children for supervised visitation.

Once all parties have completed orientation, we will schedule a supervised visitation session based on our staff availability and the court order or agreement.

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 facilitator, child custody evaluator, et cetera).

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.

Due to providing services for multiple families we schedule weekend visits based on the day that the visits actually occur. This is to prevent scheduling problems where differing courts define weekends based on different days of the week – some orders refer to the preceding Friday in defining visit dates, whereas in other cases the order refers to the actual day of the month. This can lead to circumstances, for instance, where the 2nd chronological Saturday of the month is also, by definition of some orders, the 1st Saturday of the month. In such cases separate visits covered by the same supervisor that might be scheduled on 1st and 3rd Saturdays and 2nd and 4th Saturdays collide on the calendar, causing scheduling gridlock. Our approach avoids this unfortunate Gregorian oddity.