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The importance of avoiding custody exchange conflicts

Among the many things that the coparenting relationship generally involves after parents split are custody exchanges. These exchanges are when the kids go from one parent to the other (such as when one parent is giving the other parent the kids for that parent’s visitation time).

This may seem like a simple enough process on its face. However, given the strong emotions a parent may feel regarding their children, custody/visitation issues and their ex, exchanges can have the potential to get complex. For one, sometimes, parents get into conflicts during custody exchanges, such as arguments over issues regarding the kids or other matters.

Conflicts during custody exchanges can have the potential to cause a range of different problems, including:

  • A degraded coparenting relationship.
  • Emotional turmoil for the kids. Seeing their parents fight during a custody exchange, particularly if the argument devolves into things such as name-calling or insults, can be difficult for children emotionally.
  • Risks of violence. Arguments during custody exchanges, particularly when emotions are running high, could run the risk of turning violent and endangering the safety of those involved in the exchange (including the kids). 
  • Legal problems. Things that happen during custody exchange conflicts that get out of hand could, in some circumstances, lead to a parent facing a possibility of their custody/visitation rights being reduced.

So, avoiding custody exchange conflicts can be very important.  

One thing that can help with lowering the chances of conflicts occurring during custody exchanges is a parent being aware of what terms the child custody agreement/order that is in place has regarding custody exchanges (such as terms regarding the manner, time and place of such exchanges) and taking care to follow such terms. Deviating from such terms when the other parent is expecting them to be followed is one of the things that can be a source of custody exchange conflicts. If a parent is confused about aspects of the custody exchange terms of the child custody order/agreement regarding their child, talking to an experienced attorney may help provide some clarity on the matter.

Another thing that can help with conflict avoidance is parents being aware of what sorts of things are particularly likely to be conflict flashpoints for them and taking efforts to steer clear of these things during custody exchanges.

Source: Findlaw, "Child Custody Exchange," Accessed March 23, 2016

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