Parenting time can be fraught with complications. Ideally, you and your former spouse have worked out a fluid system that allows you both to spend a reasonable amount of time with your children during the week, on weekends, and on holidays. But there may be one unexpected speed bump to overcome: where to exchange the children.
There are many logical reasons to choose a neutral meeting place to exchange your children. Maybe your ex doesn’t want to drop the kids off at the home you formerly shared as an entire family because it’s painful for them, and also for the children to see them there in a non-permanent capacity. One party many not want to drop off the kids at their ex’s new place because that person’s new partner is always there and it’s uncomfortable seeing them. Or maybe in the divorce the exes have set up homes that are quite far away from each other and it would just be easier to meet in the middle.
To avoid the above scenarios, consider one of these four neutral meeting places to exchange the kids with your ex:
- School. This is the easiest way for your child to get from one parent to another. The exes never have to see each other, they need only agree on who’s picking up the child on which day. For your child, the routine is maintained and it’s simply a matter of knowing whether mom or dad will be waiting after the final school bell rings.
- Fast food restaurant. If you’re choosing to meet at a food spot, make it a fast food place so there is no suffering through a meal with your ex or waiting for the check to arrive. If you’re not a big fast food family, this could be an occasional exchange spot that makes the passing between mom and dad easier for your child as it’s smoothed over by a small treat they might not normally have.
- The mall. If you can use the mall as a neutral place without succumbing to buying your child something each time an exchange occurs, this can be a great neutral place to meet your ex. Should your former partner be known for causing a scene during exchanges, this meeting ground offers plenty of witnesses which may help tame any bizarre or undesirable behavior.
- Public park. If you want to exchange the children with little eye contact and no more than a “hello” or “goodbye” with your ex, a public park is one way to get your kids where they need to be without having to interact much with your ex. Your children will be distracted by the slides, swings, and other diversions, and you can make your escape quickly.
The goal in all of this should be to protect your children from any negativity you and your ex may still have between you and to maintain consistency and stability in the lives of your children. The kids shouldn’t become casualties of your emotional or verbal war so, for their sake, your relationship with your ex should become more of a business relationship than anything else. Drop-off and pick-up times should not be considered an opportunity to discuss anything regarding the children or the divorce – that’s what private emails, phone calls, or even third-party mediation are for.
If your ex is extremely difficult to reason with when it comes to picking up or dropping off your children, or if their behavior during the exchange is overly demonstrative or unacceptable, it may be necessary to consult with your Michigan divorce attorney. If you’re in the process of finalizing your divorce, you may want your custody agreement to specify neutral locations where you can exchange the children.
Michigan Divorce Help is an east side law firm working in the tri-county area, handling family matters primarily in Macomb County. Contact us to discuss your concerns, questions, and divorce needs and to schedule your no-cost .