Tips for Smooth and Safe Child Custody Exchanges, Part 1

At Oxendine Law our goal is always to help our clients move forward with their lives in the best possible way. That includes having a respectful co-parenting relationship with your child’s other parent. As much as we want to see everyone get along, that doesn’t always happen. If emotions run high when you see your ex, and you are required to see them on a regular basis to exchange custody of your child, it can be a recipe for disaster. It doesn’t have to be, though. Fortunately, there are several tips and tricks you can use to make sure your custody exchanges are as smooth and conflict-free as possible.

Go In with the Right Frame of Mind

In some cases, a stressful custody exchange can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You are dreading the possibility of an argument with your ex, so you are in a bad mood before you even get to the exchange. Lo and behold, when your ex arrives, they mirror your bad mood and the stage is set for yet another fight.

Instead, take time before your child custody exchange to consciously change your mood and your outlook. Tell yourself that everything will go well and that once the exchange is done you won’t have to think about your ex for days. At the same time, keep your optimism in check. If you and your ex aren’t cordial, then focus on keeping the exchange as brief and business-like as possible. It may seem like a good time to bring up other issues (i.e. you still owe me for half of that doctor bill, or I need to ask if we can trade weekends next month, etc..) but the truth is its not. You’re here for one reason, to exchange the child. The rest can wait.

Choose Your Company Wisely

Some people prefer to bring a third party to a custody exchange rather than facing their ex alone. This is especially common if there have been physical altercations in the past. While this is a good strategy, it is important to choose that third party with caution.

Pay attention to the way your ex interacts with the people in your life. If there is a friend or family member that tends to butt heads with your ex, they are not the right person to accompany you. Otherwise, your ex will be defensive and argumentative from the moment they see the person. Instead, select someone your ex has a cordial rapport with or someone they don’t know who has a neutral, calm personality.

Watch Your Time

“Be on time” sounds like the simplest and most obvious suggestion for a custody exchange, but it can make a larger difference in your family law case than you realize. For the exchange alone, being late sends the message that you do not respect your ex’s time. It might be a subtle message, but it will affect your ability to co-parent peacefully, especially if you are late on a regular basis.

Second, if your ex has to sit around and wait for you, it frustrates them that you are taking extra time out of their day. By the time you arrive, your ex is already angry. You may be in a bad mood as well if you have been rushing and fighting traffic because you didn’t leave on time. When two irritable exes come together, it’s a recipe for a stressful custody exchange.

Finally, if you are late to your custody exchanges, you are at risk for consequences from the Court. It may be considered a violation of your custody agreement and the Court could find you in contempt. Even if this does not happen, the judge certainly will not look favorably on you during future custody modifications if you are habitually late for custody exchanges.

The simple truth is that co-parenting is difficult. No one wants to continuously interact with someone that they have conflict with, and when there is a child in the middle, it isn’t surprising that emotions can run high. If you use some planning and forethought with the tips above you and your child are more likely to enjoy smoother, more peaceful custody exchanges.

There are plenty of additional ways to make your custody exchanges easier as well, so keep an eye out for our next blog for the second part of this blog series. If, on the other hand, you need to modify your parenting plan or you don’t have a court-ordered parenting plan, call Oxendine Law family law attorneys for help. Remember to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more tips.