Among the most crucial details to work out as you and your co-parent negotiate your custody agreement is how to handle the exchanges of your children. If you will continue to live near each other and share custody, these exchanges may be frequent.
It's essential for the children's well-being that you determine in advance who is responsible for taking the kids between their homes. Otherwise, there can be confusion and conflict every time there's an exchange. This can cause added stress and insecurity for kids.
Typically, parents handle their custody exchanges themselves. However, in some cases (particularly in the early days of the break-up) their relationship is so toxic that even being around each other for brief periods without a fight erupting seems impossible. There are some other child exchange options you may want to consider.
Exchanging the kids at school
A parent who is taking the kids for a weekend, for example, may pick them up after school on Friday and return them on Monday. This solution requires parents to be reliable and prompt. Otherwise, kids can be left waiting outside. This arrangement also requires kids to bring the belongings they need to take to their other parent's home to school with them, which can be inconvenient.
Exchanging the kids at a friend or family member's home
This may work if you know someone who is comfortable dealing with both of you and whom your kids enjoy spending time with as they wait to be picked up by one parent after the other has dropped them off. It also requires you to be comfortable with bringing a third party into your exchanges.
Having a third party transport the kids between homes
Again, this requires having someone who can amicably deal with both of you. It also requires finding someone willing to drive the kids between homes. You need to choose someone whom you and your co-parent trust not to use this time to speak poorly about you to or in front of your kids.
None of these is an optimal solution and these arrangements aren't always long-term sustainable. However, they can be better than exposing your kids to arguments and silent fuming as you and your ex learn to deal with your new relationship as co-parents. Your family law attorney can help you work to find the best exchange option for your kids as you negotiate your custody agreement.