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How do you handle a custody exchange during a bitter divorce?

Child custody is one of the No. 1 things that couples fight over during a divorce. The situation can end up not only involving the couple and their children, but family and friends as well.

The more bitterly-fought the battle, the harder it is to make a custody exchange when it is the other parent's time with the children without having some sort of incident -- and you want to avoid those as much as possible because they could come back to haunt you in court if anything gets physical or you say anything you'd regret the judge hearing.

Here are some tips for making transitions smoother (and safer) when the divorce isn't exactly going easily:

  1. Pick a neutral spot for the transfer. Ideally, make it in a public place where there are plenty of witnesses. If your local police station allows people to make exchanges in their lobby (and many do, to accommodate the safety needs of those who sell items on Craigslist or other local sites), consider making the custody exchange right there.
  2. Bring a witness with you -- but not one that is emotional, tightly invested in the outcome of the case or likely to rile up your spouse. For example, don't bring your brother if he and your husband have already come to blows. Don't bring your girlfriend just to taunt your wife.
  3. Inform your spouse ahead of time -- in writing via text or email -- that you will only discuss information regarding the kids and their care at exchanges. For example, if you need to know that your son is on ear drops, that's fine. Bringing up child support payments or money for school clothes is not.
  4. Don't respond to "baiting" comments or tactics. Act as if you didn't even hear them, no matter how difficult it may be. You'll come off better in the end and risk nothing by doing so.

When you're in a custody dispute, you have to act as if you are always on display -- because you never know when a slip will be used against you in court to show that you're hostile, aggressive or somehow unfit as a parent.

An experienced attorney can help you learn more on how to handle child custody disputes.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Custody Exchange," accessed Sep. 20, 2017

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