Divorce is tough.
When you’re going through divorce, emotions run high, and sometimes they overrun logic.
So, it’s no surprise that parent-time exchanges (i.e., when kids are exchanged between parents for visitation) can get a little heated.
Most of the time, it’s pretty easy to tamp down the emotions by ensuring parents don’t really interact much during the exchanges.
Easiest way to do this is by doing what we call a curb-side drop-off. In other words, the parenting dropping off the kids stays in the car while the kids walk from the car (parked on the curb) in to the other parent’s house.
Problem almost always solved.
But, there are those situations in which even a curb-side drop-off doesn’t help.
Sometimes, people simply can’t help but come out of the house to yell at the other parent. Or, the parent dropping off the kids will walk the kids to the house, just to bug the other parent.
And then things escalate.
It’s at this point, when nothing else works, that you may think about doing parent-time exchanges at a police station.
Police station exchanges should be the last resort for two reasons:
- They’re really inconvenient.
- Kids hate them.
Think about it: instead of exchanging kids at home, everyone has to drive to a police station somewhere, wait, exchange your kids in front of cops walking around everywhere, and then drive home.
Also, kids are perceptive, which means they understand something is very wrong when mom and dad can’t be around each other except at a police station.
That in itself is traumatizing, and we don’t do things that traumatize kids unless all other options will traumatize them more.
Here is a list of how and where you should do parent-time exchanges, from best option to worst option:
- Drive kids to each parent’s home. Walk up to the house. Talk civilly about kids and whatever else you need to.
- Curb-side drop-off. Text to let the other parent know the kids are coming.
- Curb-side drop-off. No talking.
- Family member, instead of the parent, does the exchange at parent’s home.
- Significant other/new spouse, instead of the parent, does the exchange at parent’s home.
- Exchange takes place at a gas station or some other neutral location.
- Exchange takes place at a police station.
Again, the police station is the last resort. Do everything you can to not go there.
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