You had a contentious marriage and a bitter breakup, so your custody exchanges are fraught with tension. It’s not good for anybody, least of all the kids.
Is there anything you can do to reduce the conflicts at your custody exchanges? Here are some suggestions.
Ask your co-parent to cooperate
Start by approaching your co-parent with a plan to reduce everybody’s frustrations during custody exchanges, and let your co-parent know this is largely for the children. Ask for their support and cooperation for things like on-time drop-offs and pick-ups and a pledge to address anything that’s not immediately relevant to the exchange at other times. It may be better to send your proposal through their attorney if you can’t talk to your co-parent without the conversation devolving into a shouting match.
Be considerate, flexible and polite
You shouldn’t tolerate repeated abuses of the parenting time schedule by your co-parent, but you do need to be flexible and considerate. If they have a sudden mix-up with their schedule and are going to be late to pick-up, don’t hold it against them. If you’re going to be late, shoot them a quick text (with an apology) and a brief explanation.
This can also help you in court if you’re ultimately unsuccessful at reducing conflicts by creating a record of your conversations and exchanges. However, remember that everything you text will also be on the record, too.
Minimize the potential trigger points for a blow-up.
If there are things you know will escalate tensions, be proactive about avoiding them. For example, your sister may make you feel more comfortable during the exchanges, but you know that she has a tendency to be verbally aggressive and protective – and she never did like your co-parent. Having her ride along for your exchanges is asking for trouble.
If you really don’t feel comfortable at exchanges by yourself, you may need to ask the court to impose supervised exchanges. A third set of eyes on the exchange can often keep everybody on their best behavior.
When you’re having custody issues, don’t let your co-parent get under your skin. You may have more legal options than you realize.