Visitation Exchanges. Do this to Avoid Friction with your Ex!
Visitation exchanges and custody exchanges can be uncomfortable and sometimes downright combative depending upon the relationship between the parents. They can also be stressful to your child as well. The overall objective needs to be to keep things civil and reduce friction all the way around.
Here are some common-sense tips of what to do, or not do in visitation exchanges:
- Coordinate Drop Off/Pick Up Location: In high conflict cases, the less you have to interact with your Ex the better. One common approach is agreeing upon making the switch at school, a daycare center, babysitters or friend’s house. Other options are at a public place such as a park or restaurant. In extreme situations, some folks will make the exchange outside the local police department. You need to figure a spot that is practical and reduces possible danger
- Bring a Third Party: Some folks will bring a witness to observe the drop off/pickups and to act as an observer and help reduce any friction. If you do this, please be smart in who you choose. Typically, a family member or a mutual friend works best (assuming they get along decently with your Ex). Do not bring a person that you are now dating or one who will likely incite any spirited emotions at the exchange! Keep that observer in the background. Hopefully that person does not have to become involved, but could serve as a Court witness if needed to avoid a he said/she said situation.
- Minimize Communication and be Civil: This is not the time to discuss anything other than the absolute basics related to the kids needs to effectuate the exchange. Do not bring up past issues or make disparaging comments! LIMIT ALL CONVERSATION! Be cordial and civil – regardless of how hard that is to accomplish.
- Preparation: It takes time to get everything together for the exchange! Plan ahead. Be sure to pack everything provided at the start of the parenting time period. That means returning clean not dirty clothes! In addition, include all medications, school uniforms and sundry supplies, homework and school books etc. Think about what the kids need and be sure to include them. Don’t forget your child’s sleep blanket or stuffed animal. This tip is very important! I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times I have had to send a letter or deal with this problem!
- Be on Time! Just like returning dirty clothes showing up late is a regular problem folks deal with in making visitation exchanges . In this day of cell phones, there is really no excuse in failing to notify your Ex if you are running late. Be considerate! If possible always show up a bit early to keep the peace.
These custody/visitation exchanges can be tough. Do your best to try to minimize any friction and make them as smooth as possible for the children. Plan ahead. Have your emotions in check at the exchange!
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog. Mr. Mues has also been a dog owner for 55+ years, and just recently, he and his wife are the owners of "Ralph", a rescued mixed Wire Hair and Jack Russell Terrier.