Kimberly Staley
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3 ways to ease tension during high-conflict custody exchanges

When you and your ex share parenting time of your kids, you will have some interaction with each other. For many people, these interactions are brief, polite and limited to the context of custody exchanges.

For some parents, though, even these exchanges prove to be bitter, contentious and upsetting. If you and your ex do not get along and wind up fighting every time you exchange custody, then you (and your kids) likely dread these situations. However, there are some things you can do to ease some of this tension and make exchanges a little easier for your kids.

  1. Meet in a neutral place. Showing up to each other's home can involve a personal element of an exchange that only makes things worse. Seeing a new boyfriend or girlfriend at the house, remembering what it was like to live together or having new purchases on display might be all it takes to spark a fight.
  2. Focus on your kids. They are already struggling with some difficulties during exchanges. Missing Mom, being excited to see Dad and trying to experience these emotions without hurting their parents' feelings can be extremely hard for a child. Therefore, parents should stay focused on how their kids are feeling and how they can make this time easier for them.
  3. Minimize conversation. Making snide comments, asking hurtful questions or introducing a topic that you know is a sore subject is not going to end well during a high-conflict custody exchange. Instead, save any discussion for when your kids are out of earshot, and consider limiting it to emails and other forms of communication that may be less combative.

These are just a few things you can do to minimize conflict during custody exchanges. You can also set other rules or guidelines in your parenting plan with the help and guidance of your attorney.

Should you have concerns for your safety or the safety of your children, it may be necessary to call the authorities. Additionally, you will want to document any problems that arise and discuss them with your attorney.

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