When a divorce becomes contentious, every interaction between the spouses can turn into a potential argument. Unfortunately, when couples have minor children, they will have to see one another regularly.
The end result may be numerous arguments and fights, many of which their children will witness. Research has long shown that divorce can be difficult for children, and fighting can make it worse. One of the best ways parents can minimize the impact of divorce on children is to prevent their child from witnessing such arguments.
Shielding children from the conflict of a divorce is difficult, but it is a worthwhile endeavor. If you and your ex can't seem to stay home with one another for custody exchanges, it may be time to rethink the way that you approached the process.
Meet somewhere public and easily accessible
You should choose a convenient location that represents a middle ground between where you travel from and where your ex travels from. This location could be a store, a restaurant or even the house of a friend or family member. In situations involving domestic violence, custody exchanges may need to take place at the police station for safety's sake.
Meeting in a public location is useful for a number of reasons. First of all, potential witnesses will decrease the motivation to argue or fight. More importantly, meeting in a neutral space instead of someone's home can prevent the situation from triggering someone's negative feelings.
Finally, it provides a form of buffer between the personal lives of the parents. Agreeing on a neutral location for your routine custody exchanges will make everything easier.
Consider a proxy if you don't feel safe or can't stay calm
The emotions involved in a divorce are intense and can overwhelm people easily. If you struggle to keep yourself calm, even in a public setting, you may want to consider using a proxy for custody exchanges. The same is true if you worry that your ex could become abusive toward you.
This individual can be anyone you trust, from a neighbor or close friend to a family member. You and the proxy would arrive with your child for the custody exchange, but your proxy will be the individual who interacts directly with your ex. Your proxy can ensure that the child is safely in the custody of the other parent and can also convey messages, if necessary, regarding important information about the children.
Over time, as you both calm down and begin to move on, you may be able to change the custody arrangements. However, during the times when you are struggling to interact respectfully, a neutral location or having friends and family assist with the active exchange can make things easier for you and for the children.