Tips for Smooth and Safe Child Custody Exchanges, Part 2

You have gone through your child custody case, and after spending months in the legal process, you finally reach a custody schedule. As much of a relief as it can be to finally have a resolution, this doesn’t put an end to your custody-related stress. Every time you meet up with your ex to exchange custody, there is a risk for arguments and tension. Keeping everything calm and positive will make life easier for everyone involved, especially your children. In our last blog, we shared a few tips to make your custody exchanges smoother, but after spending 25 years of combined experience in the field of family law, our team at Oxendine Law has plenty more wisdom to share, including these additional tips.

Limit Your Conversation

Sharing custody of a child requires plenty of organization and cooperation. You and your ex likely find each other communicating on a regular basis about scheduling changes, issues your child is dealing with, and other logistics. Depending on your relationship with your ex, however, any contact between you has the potential to turn into a conflict. For this reason, limit your custody exchanges to the sole purpose of exchanging custody. This is not the time to discuss any other matters. Not only do you want to avoid an argument that will be stressful for your child, but you also want to have all your logistic conversations in writing. Wait until the child custody exchange is done and text or email your ex instead.

Establish Clear Boundaries

Choosing a location for your custody exchanges is an important part of the process. In many cases, it is best to exchange custody at a neutral location so neither parent has a “home-field advantage.” However, circumstances can get in the way and for some families, the only practical option is for one parent to come to the other parent’s home. If this is the case, it is a good idea to establish clear boundaries. If you are coming to your ex’s house, find out whether they feel comfortable with you coming inside the home, waiting outside, or waiting in your vehicle. Setting up boundaries from the beginning can help you ensure that everyone feels as comfortable and respected as possible.

Cut Out the Interaction Entirely

As we have learned first-hand in the family law field, sometimes the best way to avoid a conflict during a custody exchange is to avoid having any interaction with your ex at all. Depending on your custody arrangement and your child’s daily schedule, you may be able to do this easily by exchanging custody at your child’s school. On exchange days, one parent can drop off the child in the morning and the other can pick up the child in the afternoon to begin their visitation period.

If your child isn’t yet in school or if you are looking for a way to exchange custody in the summer, you can arrange this in any way you want. You can make the same arrangement with extracurricular activities, playdates, and any other occasion. The only problem with this plan is that if your child has to carry luggage with them, this may make the logistics more difficult. It works best if your child has enough clothes, toiletries, and other essentials at both homes.

In a perfect world, your child would be able to have a wonderful relationship with both of their parents without you or your ex ever needing to see or speak to each other. Unfortunately, that is not reality, and the best thing you can do is to find a way to keep your exchanges with your ex as smooth and conflict-free as possible. These tips will help you work toward that goal.

Of course, you need to begin by reaching an equitable parenting plan and custody arrangement first. If you need to establish your first parenting plan or you would like to modify your current parenting plan, call Oxendine Law’s family law attorneys for help.