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Reducing conflict during child custody exchanges

El Paso parents who are getting a divorce may find that their conflicts do not end on the day that the divorce is finalized, and custody exchanges may be times when those conflicts come to a head. Whether parents share custody or one parent is the custodial one while the other has visitation rights, they will need to meet up each time the child goes from one household to the other.

Disagreements over issues such as school or child support may escalate into verbal abuse or even physical violence. Some exchanges have even turned deadly such as one in which a father was shot by his ex-wife's partner. In other cases, parents may try to manipulate the situation to their advantage. One father planted a knife in his child's backpack in hopes the mother would be accused of doing it. The plan backfired, and he was charged with reckless endangerment and child abuse.

Even when conflicts do not rise to a level that requires the intervention of law enforcement, parents should keep in mind that these types of arguments are not in the child's best interests. A better approach for a parent is to document any aggression from the other parent. Escalation could result in a loss of child custody for one or both parents.

Rules around the exchange can be negotiated during the divorce and included in the parenting agreement. In some cases, parents might be required to do the exchange in a public place. Parents should try to avoid disagreements in front of the children. They may also want to include guidelines for issues such as bedtimes, extracurricular activities and more in the parenting agreement. The agreement may be amended if necessary when the needs of the child change, and parents might include a plan for how to do so in the agreement itself.

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