It can be difficult for some parents to exchange custody of their children and coordinate parenting time in a respectful and appropriate manner. For some it is difficult to let their children out of their care, even if they are on amicable terms with their ex-spouse after the divorce. Here are some helpful tips on both co-parenting and promoting custody exchanges that are handled respectfully and on-time.
1. Address the strategy in the parenting plan
North Carolina parents should consider the logistics of their custody arrangement – including the custody exchange – when they create their parenting plan. For example, they should evaluate details including:
- Where will the exchange occur – the parents’ residences, their work or the child’s school?
- What days and times work best for the exchange to occur and ensure everyone is prompt?
- How will the transportation of the child be arranged?
- What rules should parents establish for the exchange?
It is helpful to consider these details proactively, but parents should remember that they can always adjust their strategies and their parenting plan if necessary, as they figure out what works best for their family. It is also beneficial to get the terms of any agreement on these details in writing so there is an understanding between both parents.
2. Be respectful
Even if co-parents are on good terms after their divorce, exchanging custody can be a stressful situation for the whole family. This is especially true since custody exchanges are often one of the times that parents have the most contact with each other, and children might feel anxious seeing their parents interact after a divorce.
To ensure the situation is not stressful for the child or either parent, parents must remember to set their emotions aside, as well as remain calm and respectful.
3. Consider: Should you pick up or drop off the child?
Some sources state that parents should always drop off their child instead of picking them up. Why is this a critical nuance to note? There are two points to consider:
- Picking up children might be more stressful, especially if there are time constraints. Whether the child still has to pack, or they wish to mentally prepare for the custody exchange, a parent waiting to leave can add a significant amount of stress to the whole situation.
- From a psychological perspective, the child as well as the on-duty parent might feel that the other parent is taking the child away. This is often not an overt feeling – it is more commonly an unconscious or underlying point of anxiety.
This is another reason why many parents choose to arrange a neutral location for the custody exchange – such as the child’s school – so no family member feels such stress during the exchange.