Child custody disputes seldom go smoothly — and the tensions that rise during a pitched battle over custody can linger long after the court has made its ruling. That can leave everyone feeling overwhelmed by the hostility that comes out during custody and visitation exchanges.
What can you do to make it better?
Choose a smart point of exchange
Does walking up to your ex’s front door seem incredibly intimidating and unappealing? Your ex may feel like you’re invading (even though you have to be there) and you may feel like you’re too vulnerable. A public location that’s “neutral ground” is the best point of exchange.
If you’re involved in a situation where the other party has been abusive in the past (or has made threats), you may even want to investigate the Safe Havens Supervised Visitation and Safe Exchange Program here in Chicago. They were designed for these issues because of the recognized problems that come with custody conflicts.
Follow the existing orders regarding custody and visitation
Nothing gets a custody dispute back in gear like one party’s failure to follow the court’s orders. You don’t want to give your ex any excuse to drag you back into court.
Make sure that you read your custody orders over and fully understand them. Show up on time for exchanges and communicate through the appropriate channels (even if that’s through your respective attorneys) about any problems as soon as you know about them.
Bring a neutral third party along for the exchange
Sometimes spouses will manage to hold their anger in check around a third-party. Bringing a third-party to a custody exchange only works, however, if they’re actually neutral. For example, you don’t want to bring your mother along to the custody exchange if she’s always hated your ex and financed your custody fight. That’s asking for the conflict to escalate.
If a custody and visitation plan isn’t working, you may need to consider taking the issue back into court. Modifications to better ensure your safety may be possible.