In the early stages of a divorce, exchanging custody of your children might feel like part of a hostage negotiation. The first few times you pass your children to the other parent to spend time with them can feel unnatural and painful. However, with the right steps, you can have an easy child custody exchange.
Shuffling your children around doesn’t have to feel like or be an unpleasant chore. Having a plan and sticking to the arrangements can keep things civil even if you never want to speak to your ex again. Just follow these tips to help you avoid conflict, make sure your children are safe and comfortable, and make custody exchanges easier.
Maintain A Routine
Agree on a fixed time and place for custody exchanges that comply with the parenting schedule. Set rules on how parents will transport the children. This will minimize any potential for surprises that can lead to tension, especially it comes to parenting time.
Help Kids To Understand Their Schedule
Parents aren’t the only subjects of focus here. Kids need to be comfortable with the parenting schedule too. Make sure your child has a copy of their schedule and keep them updated about any changes to the days or schedules. You can use colors and stickers to mark changeover days for your younger children. Update the days on electronic calendars for older kids who may prefer to have reminders on their phones.
Communicate With The Other Parent
If you are going to be late, or you need to change the time and place of the custody change, it’s important to let the other parent know of the change in plan immediately. If you consistently fail to show up on time or do not comply with the visitation schedule, your ex can file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the family law court and get you to appear in court with your child.
Limit Your Conversation
You may have to talk to your ex to work out changes to schedules and exchanges, but talking to them may trigger a conflict that is stressful for your child every time you meet. The best way is to limit face time and contact. Use text messages and emails. Avoid talking about any other topics and stick to those related to parenting your child.
One way to avoid having to see them entirely is to plan to have one parent drops the child off at school or extracurriculars in the morning while the other parent picks up the child at the end of the day, provided that the schedules of both parents and the child fit.
Your children can still have a good relationship with both parents even if parents don’t see each other.
Don’t Make Kids Pack Their Bags
If your child always has to pack and unpack when moving between the two houses, they may not feel settled in either house and feel excluded from the rest of the family. If your child looks unhappy during exchanges, that can escalate the tension between two parents. Put your child’s interests first. You can consider providing them enough essentials at both homes if possible. Work towards making them comfortable in either home.
Meet In Public
Meeting out in the open minimizes the risk of an altercation. Just being in public activates certain decorum in adults in many cases. A public place is also a neutral location where neither parent has an advantage. You can choose your child’s daycare or school, a park, a shopping mall, or even a police station.
If you do have to drop the kids off at one parent’s home, make sure the other parent is home at the agreed time and that your kids can enter the house.
Bring A Friend
Bringing a friend or loved one along for the exchange can also ease tensions. If your relationship and divorce were volatile and difficult, the presence of another person can often create a feeling of formality that will lower the overall anxiety level of the situation.
For example, if your schedule says to exchange custody at noon, arrive at the exchange location a few minutes early. The extra time will allow you to get your bearing and ease your nerves. This has the added bonus of helping your children transition more easily, too.
If you’re consistently late, that can lead to more conflict during exchanges which is not the best situation.
Don’t Pick A Fight
If you want to argue with your ex-spouse when exchanging custody, you won’t have to look far to find a reason. Rather than do this, keep your cool, remain positive, and stick to the basics when conversing.
You might be anxious or sad seeing the other parent or your child going to the other parent’s home to spend time with them. However, picking a fight with the other parent can stress your child out and is not in their best interests. Your kids may already find it difficult to bid goodbye to one parent.
These child custody exchange tips will put your mind at ease. These ways can reduce conflict and tension with your ex as well. If your ex takes a similar approach, you’ll find it much less stressful during these exchanges.
In the event that your ex continually violates your visitation orders, explain your concerns to them, and learn more about your legal rights provided by Texas law. You may be in a position to request a legal modification to the parenting schedule from the court. Our family law experts at Sean Lynch with decades of experience can help. If you have any questions, contact us for a no-cost case review.