Sarasota, Florida -- Couples who divorce or are in a violent relationship may be able to end their tie but one bond they will always share is the one as parents. But those shared custody meetings can be difficult and sometimes violent.
There are safer places to meet than in a parking lot for supervised visits or safe exchange of kids.
Tucked away in a Venice plaza off South Tamiami Trail is a safe place for parents to drop off their child for supervised visits or monitored exchange of a child.
“To keep everybody safe is our main goal,” says Sheila Miller, director of operations for the Child Protection Center says parents never see each other.
“We have 2 separate parking lots, 2 separate entrances, staggered arrival times and an officer on duty,” says Miller.
There are security cameras in all the rooms. “Everyone is wanded by police officer and give the officer their car keys it limits the chance of an abduction,” adds Miller.
While these safety measures protect parents, it’s done with kids in mind.
Miller says, “When people go through a divorce or nasty separation emotions are so volatile we don’t want the child to see parents rolling their eyes, feeling pressured. They should have time to spend with their parents without fear or worry.”
A safe place can be as close as your nearest law enforcement agency. Many sheriff’s offices and police departments like Sarasota Police Department post a sign in the lobby showing it’s a "transaction safe place" not just for business but family exchanges, too.
“Domestic violence is all about power and control,” says Jessica Hays, president and CEO of Sarasota’s Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center. She says someone in a violent relationship should always keep their safety in mind.
Hays says, “To always be re-evaluating circumstances. What triggers the other person?"
Experts say meeting at public place isn’t always the safest place.
Miller adds, “There has to be some type of safety … not a parking lot with cameras may record it but the camera does not do anything to protect that child after something happens.”
To find the closes supervised visitation program click here.