North Carolina Supervised Visitation and Monitored Exchange Centers

What is the difference between "supervised visitation" and "monitored exchanges?"

Many parents and children who are separating or divorcing in difficult circumstances need help from a neutral third party in arranging for visitation. Although emotions may be running high between you and the other parent, it is your children's best interests that you should consider first when thinking about visitation. In most situations, children want to continue relationships with both parents. If your former partner still wants to maintain a relationship with the child, judges are unlikely to terminate the rights of the parent to visit. In particularly volatile situations where you may have safety concerns for you or your child, you may want to consider supervised visitation or monitored exchanges.

  • Supervised visitation is visitation between a parent and child held at a neutral location. Supervised visitations are closely monitored by staff who may intervene when necessary to ensure appropriate parent/child interactions.
  • Monitored exchanges means that the parents pre-arrange times at which the custodial parent/guardian brings the child to a neutral center. The visiting parent picks up the child for off-site visitation and returns him/her to the center at a pre-arranged time. Staggered pick-up and drop-off times are usually arranged so that the parents do not have to be in contact with one another. The actual exchange is monitored by staff who generally try to ease the process for the child.

When might I consider using one of these services?

Supervised visitation may be useful in situations where the non-custodial parent:

  • is working on improving his/her parenting skills;
  • may have a drug or alcohol abuse problem;
  • has been abusive or has had trouble controlling anger; or
  • may have been involved in inappropriate sexual behavior with the child.

Monitored exchanges may be useful in any of the situations described above, particularly if the non-custodial parent has completed treatment and is ready for unsupervised visits. Monitored exchanges may also be helpful when parents separate and find themselves yelling at one another whenever they meet, or when there is a history of domestic violence. If any violence was directed at the child, supervised visitation may be most appropriate.

How do I arrange for these services?

Most people find the services through referrals from the Court, Family Services, or Child Protective Services. Others negotiate visitation agreements that include one of these arrangements.

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