As a parent, your primary objective in life is to keep your kids safe and healthy. If you share parenting duties, you expect the co-parent also to prioritize the safety of your children. Still, emotions often run raw in the aftermath of a divorce. As such, you may need a strategy for having a safe child custody exchange.
Parents often split custody and visitation of the kids. When your time with your children is over, you must hand them off to their other parent. Because the exchange can be emotionally fraught, you must be careful to manage the situation proactively. Here are three tips for having a safe child custody exchange:
1. Pick a neutral location
Neither you nor your former partner should have the homecourt advantage during a custody exchange. If your parenting plan and custody agreement are silent on the location of the handoff, pick a neutral spot. Well-lit spaces, such as police and fire stations, usually work well. A busy restaurant may also be a good place to exchange the kids.
2. Limit conversation
Until you and your ex-spouse adjust to your post-divorce lives, you may not be on particularly good terms. Put simply, you do not want to fight in front of your children. Therefore, keep conversations brief, courteous and professional.
3. Be on time
It can be challenging to get the children ready to leave your home. Nonetheless, you should always commit to arriving at the exchange site on time. Building a few extra minutes into your schedule is probably a good idea. If you are going to arrive late, though, you should notify your children’s co-parent.
4. Never leave your kids alone
If the other parent is late for the exchange or is not at home when you drop them off, avoid the temptation to leave your children unattended, even for a brief time. Obviously, it depends on the age of the child and whether you are leaving them at their home or some public place. If they were injured while unsupervised or stranded for a long period, the court (and the other parent) would hold you responsible, even if you were on time.
If you and your ex-spouse do not get along, you must be wary of possible friction when exchanging your children. Fortunately, you do not have to leave the encounter to chance. With a bit of planning and some effort, you increase the chances of having a safe and productive custody exchange.