You may be on relatively civil terms with your ex, but breakups and divorce have a way of leaving lasting vestiges of asperity. Unfortunately, outright avoidance may not be an option. If you share minor children together, chances are you’ll be seeing them with some regularity during custody exchanges.
For some co-parents, keeping their cool during custody exchanges isn’t something that merely happens by chance. It’s the result of a mutual commitment to their child’s best interests - and some strategic planning.
As our Bergen County child custody attorneys can explain, some of these provisions can be written into parenting time agreements at the time of divorce or as part of a modification to an existing order.
Here, we’re offering some tips we’ve found helpful for others who have struggled with these face-to-face encounters.
- Make Sure All is Packed and Ready to Go. Whether it’s an overnight or a vacation, make sure your child has everything they’ll need all packed and ready to go. Use a checklist, if that helps: Medications, favorite toy/blankie, any homework or school books, dance shoes, etc. Double check, if it’s possible you might have missed something. Not only is this going to make the transition from one parent’s care to the next less anxiety-inducing for your child, it’s going to limit the amount of interaction you have with your ex. If you make sure your child has everything they need, you also limit the odds you’ll get a late-night or early-morning call for something they’re missing.
- Pick a neutral spot for pickup/drop-off. School or daycare often works for lots of families. The arrangement can involve one parent dropping the child off in the morning and another picking them up in the afternoon. This allows both of you to avoid each other’s homes, which can be less-than-neutral ground. If you choose school as your pick-up-drop-off spot, make sure school administrators are aware of the arrangement, especially if your kids are younger and require supervision to make sure they get where they are supposed to be. If school or daycare isn’t an option, pick a place where neither party is going to be inclined to cause a scene. That could be in front of a local restaurant, store or at a local park. If things are particularly contentious, you may consider arranging exchanges at a police station parking lot.
- Bring a mutual acquaintance. People may be less likely to cause a scene if they’re in the company of third parties they know and respect. This won’t be possible for every custody exchange, but it might help smooth things over in the early days if things are particularly tense. The flip side of this is who you probably shouldn’t bring along, which is anyone who is going to heighten tensions (new paramours in particular). It’s not something that may be entirely avoidable long-term, but again, early on, it’s best to limit confrontations where you can.
Keep in mind these are simply general suggestions. If you and your ex are unable to work out safe and civil arrangements on your own, you may benefit from mediation to help iron out the details. Even if you and your former partner don’t get along, exchange of custody works best when there is a thoughtful plan in place and expectations are clearly communicated. Our Bergen County child custody attorneys can help.
Call Rozin|Golinder Law, LLC today at (732) 810-0034 for a free and confidential consultation.