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How can I make heated custody exchanges easier?

Co-parenting after divorce is not an easy task for most parents. Between the difficulty of being without your children and the bitterness you might feel toward your ex, it can all prove to be an overwhelming challenge.

This is especially obvious when it comes time to exchange custody. These situations put parents in difficult, tense situations regularly, which can make matters even worse. However, there are some things you can do to alleviate some of the tension during these situations to make child custody exchanges less painful for you and your kids.

  1. Eliminate direct contact. If your kids go to school or daycare, you might be able to avoid even seeing the other parent altogether if one of you drops off the kids and the other picks them up on exchange days. This is not always possible, but it can be a very good option if it is.
  2. Make it public. If one of your concerns is that an exchange could become so heated that it erupts into violence or false allegations of assault, then exchange custody in a safe, public place. You might consider meeting outside the school or near a police station. Alternatively, there are third parties that can act as neutral facilitators of exchanges to protect kids from conflict.
  3. Keep interactions brief and calm. Do not use exchanges as opportunities to discuss or debate custody or child support matters. These issues can lead to heated conflicts to which children should not be exposed, as exchanges are emotionally trying on them as well.
  4. Communicate. If you are going to be late, let the other parent know. If you need to change the exchange location, let the other person know. Commit to letting each other know about any potential issues with an exchange as soon as they arise so that you can avoid unnecessary surprises and inconveniences.

Unfortunately, in spite of these efforts, disputes and contention can still arise during difficult custody exchanges. Should this happen, you may want to discuss with your attorney modifying custody or visitation plans.

However, in many cases, making these and similar simple adjustments can alleviate the tension during exchanges and create a more calming experience for everyone. 

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