A custody exchange can be a challenging time for many recently divorced couples. From heated emotional disagreements to differences of opinion about child-rearing, meeting with your ex-spouse on a regular basis can be a turbulent experience. When drafting the parenting time schedule, a divorcing couple can negotiate numerous factors to make the exchange less intimidating for all involved.
The divorcing couple should explore various aspects of the child custody exchange well in advance, including:
- Setting up a neutral site: While many couples simply decide to transport the child back and forth to each other’s residences, the relationship might be better served by meeting at a neutral site. Often, the exchange can be made at school, a fast-food restaurant that is equidistant from both homes or a mall’s food court. Illinois provides neutral site funding to help counties set aside and maintain locations for this purpose. Your attorney can research your county’s participation in these plans and advise you on what locations might be available.
- Bad weather contingencies: Bad weather can run the gamut in Illinois. From snow and hail to heat waves and downpours, parents might find it a challenge to get to an exchange on time. When this happens, it is wise to have contingencies in place regarding communication and compromises about how a delay is handled.
- What is communicated during the exchange: For many divorced parents, the child custody exchange can be a frosty affair. Unfortunately, parents will still need to communicate about important factors such as homework, extracurricular activities, discipline or new behaviors to be on the lookout for. Parents might simply wish to get through the exchange as quickly as possible, but they are ultimately only hurting the child.
It is wise to discuss your specific needs and goals for a parenting plan with an experienced divorce attorney. Getting the proper legal guidance can mean the difference between a smooth custody exchange and a challenging episode.