The challenges of sharing custody after a divorce or breakup do not end with a custody order. For instance, custody exchanges can be stressful and upsetting, particularly when parents do not get along with each other.
However, there are ways to make exchanges go more smoothly for everyone involved.
Be on time
Being late or making someone else late can be all it takes to create stress at an exchange. People can get angry or worried that the other person is not coming, and they may take someone being late as a personal slight. Thus, being on time is crucial. And if you are going to be late, notify the other parent immediately.
Have your child ready to go
Preparation is critical for parents sharing custody. Make sure your child has everything they need to spend time with the other parent, including clothes, comfort items and schoolwork. And talking to your child about the schedule and what to expect can be helpful, especially when an arrangement is new.
Keep it brief
Custody exchanges are not the time to talk about divorce-related issues or argue over child support. If you need to have these discussions, save them for later when you can talk away from your child. And while it can be difficult to say goodbye to your child, taking too long to do so can make the situation more painful than it needs to be.
Meet in public
Meeting in a public space can be essential if parents are volatile or if one person feels unsafe. If you live in Douglas County, the sheriff’s office can be a safe, neutral exchange location.
Avoid direct contact, if necessary
If parents do not want to have any direct contact, consider setting strict boundaries. For instance, you might agree to wait in the car or to not enter each other’s homes. You could also schedule your exchanges to align with your child’s school schedule so that you can avoid interactions altogether.
Focus on your child
Custody exchanges can be painful for parents, but they can also be incredibly upsetting for a child who has no control over the situation. Parents must keep this in mind and make decisions based on what will make the exchange easier for their children.
Over time, custody exchanges can become easier and more predictable. In the meantime, these tips can help to make a difficult process a little easier.