Children are often included on protection orders whether they were directly harmed by the domestic violence or not. If you and the respondent have children in common, please be aware that the court will consider as part of its ruling, what kind of contact the respondent should have with the minor children. The court will want to know from your petition and any other sources whether your children have experienced abuse directly and/or if the respondent has exposed them to any abuse directed towards you.
Concerns for children’s safety in domestic violence cases often fall on a continuum from very high risk to lower risk. In the highest risk cases, it may be too dangerous for the respondent to have any contact with the children. In other cases, where there is less risk, the court may order that the respondent be allowed unsupervised visitation. For those cases that fall in between, you may believe that it is important for the respondent to have contact with the children but want that contact to be supervised by another person. This would be referred to as supervised visitation. There are two types of supervised visitation options available in King County: professional supervisors not affiliated with a visitation center (independent supervisors) and supervisors who provide their supervision services inside a visitation center (center based supervision). Both center-based and individual supervisors charge a fee for their services but the courts will generally require the respondent to pay the costs associated with supervised visitation.
To learn more about supervised visitation and whether it is right for your family, please view the following publication from The Family Violence Prevention Fund called, Supervised Visitation Programs: Information for Mothers Who Have Experienced Abuse. The publication includes information about supervised visitation, how to prepare children for visitation, how to handle concerns with visitation and key questions a parent should ask to determine if the visitation program is right for your family. The following questions have been excerpted from a larger list of questions in this publication:
- How does the program provide a safe visitation environment for parents and for children?
- How does the program try to make the visitation a positive experience for children?
- What role, if any, will the program play in the custody/visitation court case?
- How does the program collect, record, and handle information about families?
- What rights and options do I have if I feel the supervisor or the supervised visitation center is not appropriately supervising my children or if they behave in an unprofessional or unsafe manner?
For more information about supervised visitation and to discuss the visitation provisions on your order, please contact the Protection Order Advocacy Program.