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Child custody exchanges: Follow these tips to avoid trouble

Depending on the relationship you have with your child's other parent, custody and visitation exchanges can be full of tension and stress. Not only can problematic handoffs be stressful for the parents, but it's safe to assume that your child will feel the negative energy, too.

Since child custody exchanges have a way of taking a toll on all parties involved, you need to do whatever you can to minimize the tension and reduce the possibility of emotional harm.

What to do, or not do

Consistently sticking to common-sense rules can go a long way. Here are several tips you can use to your advantage:

  • Show up on time: There is no better way to anger the other parent than by showing up late. If you want to keep the peace, do whatever it takes to arrive early or on time. Things can and will happen every now and again to cause unavoidable tardiness, but constantly running late has the potential to escalate minor problems.
  • Bring a third party: For example, you may ask a friend to accompany you to the exchange location, with the idea that they can help protect your well-being in the event of a disagreement. This person doesn't have to get involved, but he or she can be a supportive presence -- or a witness in the event of something serious.
  • Choose a safe place for the exchange: You never want to put yourself or your child in a dangerous situation. If you have any concerns, exchange custody at a school, daycare center or public location.
  • Minimize conversation: If every discussion turns into an argument, you shouldn't partake in a detailed conversation when exchanging custody. Instead, stick to the basics and move on.
  • Talk about the next time: For instance, if you're picking your child up for the day, let the other parent know when they can expect you to drop them off. Again, you don't have to go into too many details. Just make sure you are clear about the arrangements.

Get help if you need it

Child custody exchanges should be simple and straightforward, but this is not always the case. There's always a chance you could run into trouble, especially if you don't get along with the other parent.

If these exchanges are getting worse as time passes, you may want to learn more about your legal rights. You never want to turn a blind eye if you have reason to believe a difficult situation could turn into something more serious down the road.

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