The majority of child custody exchanges go smoothly. The parents are looking out for the best interests of their children, even if they personally can't stand one another.
There are times when custody exchanges can get heated, particularly when the parents' relationship is adversarial. When tempers run hot, violence can result. That’s exactly what happened recently in a local Pennsylvania custody exchange, where one person was tragically shot. Reduce the risk to yourself and your children during a custody exchange by following these tips.
1. Choose a Neutral Location
In tense divorces, the custody plan may specify a location for the custody exchange or mayrequire a third party to be present for these exchanges. Typically, you and your child's other parent will coordinate where to make the exchange. Parking lots at malls and grocery stores are popular locations for custody exchanges.
Avoid either of the parent's homes. This can be seen as a benefit to one parent at the expense of the other, and can lead to resentment. They may feel envious or judgmental of the other parent's living situation, or living partner, leading to even more resentment and anger. Neutral locations can help avoid these feelings and make for a calm exchange.
2. Do Not Engage
You may be tempted by the other parent to engage in an argument. Do your best to avoid this confrontation, especially in front of your child. Not only is it not good for your child to see this, engaging could cause legal trouble if the other parent attempts to claim you started the argument.
By not engaging with the other parent, you may frustrate them at the moment. But in the end, your child will be better off, and you will have solid legal ground to stand on when you convey the details to your lawyer. You want to tell your lawyer what happened so they can take appropriate legal action..
3. Follow the Custody Plan
It's important that you follow the custody plan exactly. Unless you have received instructions from a judge in advance, do not change the location or time of the custody exchange. Doing so without prior court approval could result in negative consequences.
If you need to make a change, you first need to speak with your lawyer and have them petition the court. You will need a valid reason, like if your new job has different hours and you need to adjust the time of the exchange to later in the day. Discussing this with your attorney as soon as possible increases the likelihood that you can get the modification you want.
4. Bring a Third Party
Even if it's not ordered by the court, if you think your ex-spouse might raise the temperature, bring a witness. Your witness could be a neighbor, colleague, friend, or family member.
If anything goes awry at the exchange, you have a neutral party who can provide support for your point of view. Without bringing someone along, it's just your word against the other parent. Having an objective viewpoint may help you settle a dispute with less stress and anxiety.
Protect Yourself and Your Children With Skilled Legal Representation
Custody issues may pop up from time to time, but if they're becoming regular occurrences or turning violent, speak with an experienced attorney who can help you protect your rights and keep your children safe. Contact the Lento Law Firm online or at 888.535.3686 today.