By: Mary Ellen Flynn, Esq., (301) 563-6685
For some, exchanging their children with an ex-spouse is as simple as a walk in the park; for others, it can be stressful, emotional, and toxic.
The last thing any parent should want is for their children to experience negative and tumultuous exchanges between their parents. This article provides turbulent ex-spouses with tips on ensuring a smooth and painless custody exchange.
Read and understand your custody agreement or order
If you and your ex-spouse have a custody agreement or court order precisely explaining what occurs during custody exchanges, read that document carefully and follow it with precision. Provisions addressing custody exchanges are there for a reason; therefore, if you fail to follow those provisions and there are negative consequences, you could get in trouble with the court. If you have difficulty understanding the terms of your custody agreement, consult with an attorney.
If your custody agreement is silent on specific provisions regarding exchanges, be sure to comply with all other aspects of the agreement and implement the tips below into your custody exchange routine.
Be. On. Time.
Timeliness seems to be a huge point of contention between ex-spouses. There is no reason to be late for a custody exchange. If you would not want your ex-spouse to be late because of your desire to have more time with your children, your ex-spouse shares those same feelings.
Being late creates unneeded tension and animosity, which your children do not need to experience.
If you are accidentally running late, give your ex-spouse a quick heads-up by calling or texting.
Exchange in a public setting or the presence of a third party
People are on their best behavior when they are in public, which is why a custody exchange in a public setting is an attractive option for contentious ex-spouses. This approach creates an environment for ex-spouses that encourages them to be on their best behavior, thus making for a more peaceful custody exchange in front of the children.
The same rule applies to a third-party’s presence. However, do not bring a new spouse or significant other because it will surely create even more unneeded tension. Instead, bring a third-party that both you and your ex-spouse are familiar with and have a good relationship.
Drop-off and pick-up at child’s school or daycare
Suppose your custody agreement provides for in-person custody exchanges and is simply not working due to heightened emotions and tension. In this case, you and your ex-spouse can agree that exchanges occur strictly under the children’s school drop-off and pick-up schedule. One parent drops off the children at school or daycare while the other parent picks them up.
This solution completely avoids having to interact with your ex-spouse. However, if this exchange method is not in compliance with your current custody agreement, your ex-spouse must consent or speak with an attorney about making this solution possible.
Make sure to pack everything your child needs
To avoid future confrontation and tension, be sure to pack everything that your children need to spend overnight with the other parent. Remember to pack items such as medication, an inhaler, a security blanket or other important toys, schoolwork and study materials, sports equipment, or other apparel. Even if you innocently forget to pack these items, your ex-spouse will think that you forgot to pack them on purpose no matter what excused you make, so do yourself a favor and take special note to remember to pack these important items!
If you have questions or need compassionate legal guidance regarding a custody matter, please contact us.
Contact Mary Ellen Flynn at (301) 563-6685.
Founded in 1998 in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Andalman & Flynn has forged a distinguished reputation for legal excellence. The Firm practices family law, estate planning, and probate throughout Maryland and the District of Columbia, and represents individuals seeking disability benefits throughout the country. The Firm focuses on cases that impact the rights of everyone and is there for clients when responsive legal help is most critical. The Firm has provided legal analysis on national and local television and radio, and its attorneys often testify before legislative bodies and are routinely invited to contribute to prominent legal publications. For more information about Andalman & Flynn, please visit the website at andalmanflynn.com or call 301.563.6685.