If you and your co-parent will be sharing custody of your children, you may be more focused on working out a custody schedule than the details of how the kids will get back and forth between your homes. However, these exchanges can be some of the most conflict-ridden parts of shared custody.
Even if you and your co-parent agree not to use these exchanges as a time to rehash your differences and deal with ongoing issues, just working out the logistics can be challenging. That's why it may be worthwhile to detail in your custody agreement how these exchanges will occur. This can prevent confusion and conflict later on.
Assuming that co-parents are remaining within relatively close proximity, there are a number of options for exchanging the children:
- The parent with the children brings them to the other parent's home. That parent then returns them at the end of their custody/visitation time.
- The parent who's going to have the children for a time picks them up The other parent comes for them when it's time to return home. This option could be problematic if a child has a problem being "taken" away from one parent (or whichever parent they're with).
- Parents pick up the kids from school or daycare and return them there. A parent may pick up the children after school on a Friday afternoon, for example, and return them on Monday morning. This may be preferable if parents have a difficult time being around each other. However, it can be more inconvenient for the kids -- particularly if they have clothes and other belongings with them.
- When parents live more than a short drive apart, they may find a halfway point to meet up and exchange the kids. That way, neither is making a long drive. There are apps, such as Meetways, that give you the halfway point between any two locations, along with nearby restaurants, parks and other locations that are perfect for the kids (and parents) to take a break before resuming the journey or returning home.
There are many variations on these options. Your family law attorney can help you as you work with your co-parent to determine what will work best for your family.