Tips for difficult custody exchanges

Raising a child with a parent to whom you are no longer married can be an extraordinary challenge. You can get into fights over schedules, disagree on disciplinary tactics and argue over what’s best for your child.

Because of all the bitterness and negative feelings parents may be harboring when it comes to co-parenting, exchanging custody of a child can prove to be particularly challenging. However, there are a few ways to make these situations a little easier and less stressful for you and your kids.

To begin with, it can be wise to reserve any potentially contentious discussions for times when you are not with your child. Addressing them before the exchange or after can allow you to keep the focus on making the transition as easy as possible for your daughter or son when dropping off or picking up.

However, you should still be in communication with the other parent. Keeping each other informed on when and where the exchange will occur and making sure you relay any changes as soon as possible can make the situation less contentious and stressful.

Ensuring the exchange is safe and consistent will also be crucial. Sometimes it can be wise to transfer custody in a public, well-lit place that is considered neutral ground if you are concerned about potential threats to you or your child’s safety. If the other parent fails to show up or refuses to cooperate with exchange ground rules, then speaking with the authorities and/or your legal representative as soon as possible can be essential.

Transferring custody might be the only time you come into contact with an ex, and it can be quite emotional to know that your child was just with or is going to be with the other parent. Because of all this and the fact that your child is also going through the transition, keeping an exchange of custody peaceful and uneventful will be ideal. In the event that problems arise, having legal guidance and resources can help you protect yourself, your rights and your child.

Source:, “Child Custody Exchange,” accessed on March 18, 2016

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