Child custody issues can create a lot of problems between family members. Parents, grandparents and other relatives on both sides of the family can end up at war when there’s a dispute over parenting time.
That often spills over into tense and hostile exchanges during transfers of custody as the children are shuttled back and forth for their visitation. That sort of thing isn’t healthy for anybody involved, including the kids — and it can sometimes be dangerous. Otherwise reasonable adults have been known to lose their tempers — and lose control — during custody transfers.
You can minimize the potential for violence and keep everyone on their best behavior by following these guidelines:
Insist that the transfer take place in public
People are more likely to behave themselves and exercise more self-control when they’re in public. You can insist that a custody exchange take place in full view of others. In many jurisdictions, it’s perfectly acceptable to do the exchange outside of the police station — where there’s plenty of help at hand if the situation does escalate. Other options include a coffee shop or fast food restaurant. Those locations have the added benefit of offering distractions for the kids — which can help them avoid focusing on the tensions between the adults.
Arrange exchanges around school or day care.
One good way to minimize conflict — and contact — with the other parties involved in your custody dispute is to make use of your child’s school or day care schedule. One of you can drop the child off at school or day care and the other can pick the child up at the end of the day. That way, you don’t actually have to meet up at all.
Have a silent witness come with you
If you have someone in your life that’s willing to go along to the transfers as a silent witness, that can also help keep things civil. Just be careful who you choose. The person needs to have a level head and an even temper in case the other party tries to provoke him or her.
Finally, exercise basic courtesies as you go about the exchanges. Be cordial and be on time — it’s important to keep your behavior above reproach in any child custody dispute in case the issue ends up in front of a judge later.