You may think that divorce means the end of your relationship with your ex-spouse. But if you have kids, that may not be the case. The end of your marriage means the beginning of a new relationship: parenting partners.
It is a difficult transition, with some of the hardest moments likely occurring during the custody exchange. Old disputes may resurface, accompanied by new ones about child support and custody arrangements. Florida law expects parents to minimize their children’s exposure to parental conflict during custody swaps. These guidelines can help.
Bring children to the exchange with everything they need. This includes school supplies, medications and gear for sports or activities. A very young child may need a comfort item (such as a special blanket or teddy bear). You should feed the kids before the exchange unless your arrangement says otherwise. Their clothes should be clean and in good shape, as should their shoes.
Be on time. Occasional tardiness due to heavy traffic or unexpected road construction is reasonable, but constant lateness may indicate blatant disrespect and could affect future custody outcomes. When you run late, be sure to call or send a text. Apologize for the delay — and mean it.
- Neutral location
If possible, you and your ex should avoid recurring visits to each other’s homes. It can be awkward lingering in the driveway but going inside may be worse. It may feel like an invasion of privacy or an invitation to judge how the other parent lives. After remarriage, entering your ex’s home may create tension the children can sense. If you can, choose a neutral location midway between your homes to avoid those uncomfortable situations.
- Limited communication
Be civil, courteous and cheerful, but be quick. You should not draw out the exchange or address complex issues during the swap. That also means no discussing child support payments or campaigning for a modification to the parenting plan. Your children will listen to every word you say and watch everything you do. Let them see their parents acting mature.