If you share custody of your children with a former spouse or someone else, you likely cherish the time you have with your kids. Eventually, though, you must handoff the young ones in your family to their other parent. If you are not careful, a simple custody exchange can turn into a nightmare.
When creating your co-parenting arrangement, you likely had the opportunity to negotiate a custody agreement or parenting plan. While adding details about the custody handoff in either agreement is a good idea, you can also do a few things to ensure a smooth exchange. Here are four suggestions:
1. Provide a tranquil environment
Child custody battles and other disagreements can be difficult for children. Because your kids may feel anxious during the leadup to the exchange, try to provide a tranquil environment beforehand. Rather than yelling, deriding your former spouse or otherwise adding to the stress your children may feel, opt for a quiet, low-key exchange.
2. Be on time
You do not want to give your former partner ammunition to use against you. You also do not want to cause an argument during the exchange. Therefore, plan to arrive a few minutes before the exchange. If that is not possible, at least be on time.
3. Do not be petty
Even if your children’s co-parent tries, he or she may be late to the custody handoff. Rather than escalating what would otherwise be a minor inconvenience into an argument, try to exercise some patience and empathy. If your former partner is habitually late, though, record the behavior in a private journal.
4. Prepare the children
Finally, always prepare the children for a successful custody handoff. Generally, your children should wear appropriate clothing and be clean. If your custody exchange happens after a mealtime, such as lunch, be sure you feed your kids before the exchange. Also, during inclement weather, dress your children appropriately.
While you cannot control the behavior of your children’s co-parent, you can take certain steps to increase the odds of having a safe, productive and drama-free custody exchange. With a bit of effort and some planning, you can also make the handoff easier for the young ones in your life.