Divorce is not a pretty thing. Most times, divorcing parents are eventually able to form a post divorce relationship where they put aside the conflict for the sake of their children. Some divorcing parents never get to this point for a variety of reasons.
Even if you have a great post divorce working relationship with your former spouse (referred to during this article as your “ex”), there are times where conflict can escalate. One of the most difficult times I’ve found is when the kids are exchanged between parents for visitation. Here are some tips to help you keep the exchanges civil.
I’ve heard of parents who allow their kids to eat lots of candy or let them drink coffee before they do an exchange just to hype them up and cause difficulty for the other parent. This does nothing to help promote a good post divorce relationship with your ex and it certainly does not help the children at all.
Leave in plenty of time to make the drop off destination safely at the appointed time. If you are traveling on a holiday weekend, allow time for increased traffic. If something unexpected happens during the trip(like a flat tire or a bad accident which snarls traffic), call you ex to let him or her know. During the call, let your ex know where you are and approximately how long you think it may take to get the situation resolved. For example, I’m stuck in bad traffic in X city and the officials say it will be 45 minutes until they can clear the traffic. Keep your conversation polite and factual.
If your ex picks up the children at your home, make sure the children are ready to go at the appointed time. This makes the drop offs go much more smoothly.
Your behavior is important. Remember, your children are watching you and learning, both bad and good things from how you conduct yourself!
A custody exchange is not the place to discuss the fact that she didn’t send you a check for her share of health expenses or that he’s several months behind on support. It’s also not a place to exchange information or documents, or discuss any upcoming court events. The exchange is just about that: exchanging the children between parents.
Do not engage in petty conflict with your ex at the exchange points. If your ex is 15 minutes late to the drop off, do not make sure you are 15 minutes late to the next drop off just to show her. Do not threaten him with a lawsuit if he brings his new girlfriend to the drop off. The old adage really does apply in this situation: if you can’t say anything nice, just don’t say it.
Hopefully, these things will be able to help you reduce conflict with you ex at child exchanges. Do you have any tips that have worked in your situation to reduce conflict? Please share them.