When you’re sharing custody of your children with your ex, you’ll be dealing with visitation pick-ups and drop-offs for some time. There are ways you can improve this experience to make it less stressful for your children, as well as yourself. Consider the following suggestions to make this process run more smoothly for everyone involved.
1. Prepare for Visitation in Advance
Getting your children ready to spend time with your former husband or wife involves more than making sure they have their clothing, toys and other items ready on time. (To ensure that the visit runs smoothly and lower the risk of fighting with your ex, do provide enough clean clothes and diapers or training pants, if applicable, for the duration of the visit.) If you are the parent who spends most of the time with your children, you have a great influence over them.
Be mindful of the way you talk about the time your children will be spending with your ex. Tell your kids they “get” to spend time at your ex’s home, not that they “have” to go there. The first statement makes the visitation feel like it’s something they can look forward to, while the second one feels like it’s a punishment.
2. Choose a Neutral Location
A restaurant or another public place is often a good option for meeting your ex to pick up and drop off your children. It eliminates any awkwardness around your ex asking to enter your home during a transfer. You may also find that getting the children to leave with your ex for the visitation is a little easier, too.
Unless there is a restraining order in place or an element of danger, avoid the police station as a place for picking up or dropping off your children. You don’t want your child associating his parents interacting with being at a police station.
3. Don’t Drag Out Your Goodbye
If you get upset and start crying every time your children go off to spend time for visitation with your ex, they will soon wonder why you are behaving in that way. You are allowed to have your own feelings about missing your children; you may even have your own thoughts about your ex’s effectiveness as a parent.
Tell your children that they will enjoy the time they are about to spend with their other parent. Let them know that you’ll be waiting to hear all about it when they get back to your home. Schedule something for yourself that you’ll enjoy so that you’ll have something to share with your children, too. Go to a movie, visit a coffee shop or catch up on some errands that never seem to get done when focusing on the demands of children.
4. Keep an Open Line of Communication with your Ex
One of the most common complaints about pick-up and drop-off issues is when one parent is habitually late. Everyone runs late sometimes, but when this is a continuing issue and you are waiting for an excessive amount of time, you need to bring it up. Your kids will pick up on your frustration, which will set a negative tone when your ex does arrive.
If work or school responsibilities make it difficult for your ex to pick up the children at the time specified in your custody agreement, you may need to ask the judge to change the time for the pickup and drop off. Keep written records in case you need to back up your argument for changing the day, time or both.
Bonus: Try to Meet your Ex Halfway in Deciding Who Will Pick up and Drop Off
Depending on the distance between your homes, your ex may propose an arrangement where one of you picks up the children and the other one drops them off. (You could agree to do this at each other’s homes or at another location.) Rather than dig in your heels and insist that your ex do the pick up and drop off, you may want to consider this option.
If you refuse, your ex may decide not to see the children at all. They will be losing out on spending time with their other parent. This is a relationship that is important for them, even if the two of you are no longer together.
Divorce and child custody matters can be complicated, but you don’t have to go it alone. Work with an experienced divorce attorney who will take your full situation into account and provide individualized advice. Rodríguez Family Law is here to help. Just give us a call at 862-241-1228 or send us an email to get started right away.