4 ways to make custody exchanges easier (on you and the kids)
Sharing custody of your children with another parent after divorce can be enormously difficult, whether the split was contentious or not. Divorced spouses often prefer to avoid seeing or speaking to each other after they are no longer married, but parents who share custody of a child still have to communicate, and they still have to see each other during custody exchanges.
It is during these custody exchanges that uneasy situations and emotions can escalate. Seeing the other parent and knowing that your child is either coming from or going to his or her house can make you feel anxious, scared, sad, angry and frustrated, which can make an already difficult situation even more tension-filled. However, there are some ways to make these exchanges a little easier and less upsetting for everyone involved.
- Stick to a routine: Having a routine in place for exchanges minimizes surprises and inconvenience that can lead to contention. Set a place and time for exchanges and establish rules for which parent will transport the children.
- Communicate: If a conflict does arise and you will be late or need to change the place or day of the exchange, let the other parent know as soon as possible. Failing to show up or not being on time can send the message that you are not prioritizing the exchange.
- Focus on safety: Make sure the exchange happens in a safe location. In some cases, it can be helpful to meet at a neutral, well-lit location, like near a courthouse or police station. If the kids are dropped off at the other parent’s house, make sure they can get into the house and that the other parent is home.
- Consider the child’s experience: As difficult as these exchanges are for parents, children are also subject to these arrangements. They need to say goodbye to one parent and can be excited to see the other parent, which can leave them feeling conflicted. Adding tension and bickering to the situation can only make it more difficult for them to feel comfortable.
Focusing on these four things can help parents make custody swaps a little easier and less contentious.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Child Custody Exchange,” accessed on March 11, 2016