If you have broken up with your child’s other parent, chances are you and your ex struggle to get along. Chances are also that you want your child to experience as little stress as possible after the breakup. Often, the hope of reducing stress can seem impossible when you have to meet your ex for custody exchanges.
Tennessee family courts typically give children time with both parents. Your custody order will likely require frequent exchanges of your child with your ex. Though shared parenting can be difficult, you have many options to help make child custody exchanges civil.
Keep Exchanges Predictable and Have Your Child Well-Prepared Before the Exchange
Courts across the nation recognize the challenges exes face when sharing parenting responsibilities. Courts want parents to have tools to foster smooth exchanges. A smooth exchange is good for your child, for you, and for your ex. Predictability and preparation can be your best tools for keeping child custody exchanges civil.
Develop a Predictable Exchange Schedule
Developing a predictable exchange schedule that requires exchanges to occur at the same time and location can give your child the consistency they crave in a new family dynamic. Inconsistent exchanges can stress a child out, and stress is contagious. If your child is stressed, there’s a chance you and your ex could become stressed, and negative or hostile interactions could boil over.
Having a predictable schedule can also make it easier for everyone to turn the exchange routine into an easy-to-follow habit. With everyone following a routine exchange schedule, you and your ex are likely to feel respected and calmer during exchanges.
Make Sure Your Child Is Well-Prepared for the Exchange Before It Happens
Making sure your child has what they need before an exchange helps the other parent feel respected. This also helps your child feel secure with spending time between two homes. Sending your child with additional, fun or comforting items that they don’t necessarily need can further ease their stress when switching households.
If you have a hard time speaking to your ex, ensuring your child has their needed belongings before the exchange is even more helpful. It reduces the number of times you have to speak to your ex about forgotten items. It’s important to send your child prepared for multiple reasons. Even if your forgetfulness is innocent, your ex may not see it that way. They may come to believe that you are intentionally infringing on their parenting time by neglecting to send what the child needs. When this results in multiple phone calls requesting important items, your ex may feel you are doing it on purpose to interfere with their parenting time.
A great way to avoid forgetting needed items is to talk to your child frequently about what they have going on with school and extracurriculars. You should then create detailed checklists of what your child will need to take with them for exchanges.
Conduct the Exchange at Your Child’s School or Daycare
If your child is in school or daycare, those facilities can be your best exchange resources. You can avoid your ex altogether by having one parent drop the child off in the morning and having the other parent pick them up in the afternoon. An exchange at school or daycare requires that you and your ex give advance notice of the exchanges to the facility. You must also present your certified custody orders to a facility official.
Conduct the Exchange at a Neutral Public Place
Exchanging your child in a neutral public place instead of either parents’ home can reduce the likelihood of conflict. By using a neutral location you can also eliminate feelings of resentment. You or your ex might resent an exchange because one of you is on the other’s “turf” or is bearing the brunt of transportation needs. Examples of neutral public places for an exchange can include:
- A familiar park;
- Your child’s favorite restaurant;
- A library (people have to be quiet in there); or
- A police station.
If you make the exchange at your child’s favorite restaurant or park, it can be a fun event for the child. Your child having fun at the exchange is another element that is likely to reduce everyone’s stress. An exchange at a police station can be an extreme choice, but the details of your situation might make it necessary.
Use a Neutral Third Party for Exchanges
Sometimes you and your ex need extra support. If you two struggle to keep your interactions civil, a neutral third party who your child knows well can help. You can have a third party such as a trusted friend or family member help in a number of ways. They can:
- Chaperone the exchange;
- Conduct the exchange; or
- Let the exchange happen at their home.
The use of a third party could make a fight between you and your ex less likely. A neutral third party who chaperones can also be an important witness for modifying custody if an exchange goes awry. Designating a new spouse or significant other as the third party is probably not the best choice for this task and could breed more conflict during exchanges. Of course, this depends on your unique circumstances.
If you are still in the throes of figuring out each parent’s custody rights, having even a temporary detailed parenting plan that covers many issues including exchanges is paramount. An experienced family legal matters attorney can help you develop a parenting plan that suits your child’s needs and respects the needs of your changing family.
Consult a Lawyer for Support Today
Batson Nolan PLC, has been in practice since 1860. Our experienced family legal matters team provides you with high-quality service and the personal attention you need in a family case. We have the skill and dedication to get the results you need. We handle a plethora of simple and complex family legal matters, and we want to be there for you when you need us. Reach out to us online or call us at 931-647-1501 for assistance.