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Florida court experiment in child visitation matters

The circumstances of parents separated from their children for whatever reason almost always becomes riddled with complications. Though children are often removed from their parents for concerns about the child's welfare, such separation is almost always traumatic for the child.

The 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida has looked to certain faith-based supervised child visitation programs to help to reduce this trauma. These programs would allow troubled parents visitation with their children under the supervision of those running the program. These programs will intervene and work with families in the hopes that healing can take place.

It is estimated that 1,200 children in this particular area of Florida that includes Manatee, DeSoto and Sarasota counties have been removed from their parents due to neglect, abandonment and substance abuse. Though no one wishes that children be exposed to the unhealthy surroundings that these parents often created, it has also been found that at least a certain amount of contact with parents still provided benefit to these children - so long as protection for the children was still provided.

It will be interesting to gauge the success of this initiative before implementing these programs in other areas. The volunteers that work for these programs will require a great deal of education and training before being assigned to these tasks if we are to expect that the programs can be conducted successfully.

However, it is welcome that attorneys and courts are continually trying to be more innovative in helping children adjust when it comes to divorce and broken homes. The needs of the children must come first.

Source: Bradenton Herald, "Faith-based volunteers to help families reunite in Manatee, surrounding counties," by Elizabeth Johnson, Oct. 24, 2012

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