Your New York divorce is over and matters of child custody and parenting time are in place. Now you and your former spouse must prepare to function as co-parents. This includes arranging custody exchanges that work for both of you as well as your children.
Custody exchanges can go smoothly, or they can be emotional and logistical nightmares. If you and your former spouse have residual bitter feelings from the divorce, the exchanges can be an exercise in anger and frustration. Even if you are on relatively good terms, the children may be uneasy and clingy, especially in the beginning.
How can you make child custody pickups and drop-offs easier, calmer, or even safer for everyone? Here are some suggestions.
Commit to being respectful
If your ex is running late because they were stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway, had trouble starting the car, or had to wait for the relief shift to arrive at work, accept their explanation without saying things like “You’re never on time anyway.” If you know that you will not be able to reach an exchange location on time, call your ex or send them a text advising them of the situation and giving a reasonable ETA. Common courtesy can go a long way.
Carry out exchanges at daycare or school
If tensions (and tempers) run high every time you see your ex, it might make more sense for no-contact custody exchanges to be carried out at the children’s daycare or school. One of you can drop the kids off in the morning, the other can pick them up in the afternoon, and neither of you has to meet face to face. Be sure to advise the daycare operator or school administrators of the arrangement.
Carry out exchanges in a public place
If you and your ex can agree to be civil, making a custody exchange in a public place will give both of you additional incentive to avoid making a scene. A mall, restaurant, or park are all good choices, as they will have bystanders and security cameras that can deter any sudden outbursts. If the children are anxious, try doing the exchange at a place they enjoy visiting, such as a McDonald’s, playground, or the zoo.
Police station custody exchanges
If you truly fear for your safety due to past abusive behavior and a no-contact exchange is not feasible for any reason, the pickup and drop-off can take place at or near your local police station. If something goes wrong, you will receive assistance almost immediately. It should be noted that this type of arrangement should be a last resort, as the sight of uniformed officers may frighten younger children who associate the police with being in trouble.
Child custody exchanges can be complicated when certain circumstances apply. If you have concerns about your current arrangement, a New York family law attorney can help you determine if a parenting time modification is necessary and take the necessary steps to formalize a more acceptable arrangement. If you have questions regarding child custody or child support, then contact Jayson Lutzky at 718-329-9500. He is a Bronx attorney with over 35 years of experience and offers free in-person initial consultations. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com for more information.