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Avoiding violence during custody exchanges

When tempers rise, anything can happen. Unfortunately, issues between a divorced (or divorcing) couple can sometimes get intense, especially if there are children involved. Disputes over custody and the parenting agreement (or one party's compliance with its terms) can sometimes lead to hostility or violence during custody exchanges.

Can you do anything to keep the tensions to a minimum during custody exchanges even if your ex is determined not to make things easy? You can. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Pick a neutral location for the exchange -- in public. Some communities have designated places for these kinds of exchanges, but most will also allow parents to meet in the parking lot of the local police station for custody swaps.
  2. Make it a point not to engage. No matter what your ex says or tries to bring up, just grit your teeth and stick to the business of exchanging custody of your child. Tell your ex that if there is anything they want to discuss, they need to go through your attorney, as usual.
  3. Follow the rules very carefully. Whether you're operating under a temporary agreement or a more permanent one, make sure that you understand what's expected. Show up a few minutes early (just to be certain you aren't late), bring everything that came with your child from your ex's place and make sure that your child is ready.
  4. Bring someone else with you. If necessary, they can walk your child to your ex's car in your place -- as long as your agreement allows it. Just be certain that the person you bring with you isn't someone who has already antagonized your ex.

If custody issues keep cropping up or you feel the situation is becoming dangerous, it may be time to speak with your attorney about other options. Sometimes, the court will modify a custody agreement if there is too much hostility.

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