Options for Custody Exchange Between Parents in NJ
Possible Options for Parents Exchanging Custody of the Children in Totowa, Essex Fells, Kearny, Wayne, and Woodland Park
The measure of child custody arrangements is always what is in the best interests of the child or children. In divorces with minor children, the family courts prioritize the safety and well-being of children. Thus, family court judges scrutinize parents about their attitudes toward each other and their children in determining what is safe for children and in their best interests physically, psychologically, and emotionally. Barring any threats to a child, the family court assumes the child’s best interests are to maintain a relationship with both parents. But when divorcing couples do not get along, the court and family law attorneys must assist with child custody arrangements, especially for drop off and pick up of the children for visitation and custody swaps.
Important Details that Should be Covered in Custody Exchange Plans
Most divorce decrees or custody and visitation agreements spell out the specific terms of custody exchanges. The exact details depend on the relationship of the parents. Even parents who get along need some direction regarding the time and location of custody exchanges. Typically, parties who agree on most issues also decide where, when, and how the children will spend time with each parent. They can agree on pick-up and drop-off times and residences. They may agree to transfer the children to one or both homes if they share transportation duties. Alternatively, they can pick the halfway point between them that they both agree to for the exchange.
Custody Exchanges in Conflicted Parental Relationships
On the other hand, high conflict divorces with contentious parties need more specific details in any judgment or agreement to avoid negative behaviors in front of the children. Those with difficulty cooperating can exchange the children at a mutually agreed-upon site, such as a mutual friend’s home or where the children attend school. When the exchange occurs at a third party’s residence, the children walk from the vehicle curbside to the third-party’s residence or from the front door to the curb on return. This exchange is one type of curbside exchange. Alternatively, school drop-off and pick-up may occur with one parent dropping the children off at school in the morning and the other picking them up after school.
Understanding the Curbside Pick-up and Drop-off Concept in NJ
Though not ideal, the police station can be an exchange site for parents who should not meet in person. They may have a history of violence or argue in front of the children. Still, parents who cooperate but do not wish to interact may agree to what is known as curbside pick-up and drop-off. The children’s transfers are at the other parent’s residence curb. The children walk alone to or from the other parent’s home. Of course, the parents must have minimum contact when babies are part of the exchange. And finally, parents can agree to meet at a public place, like a library, for the transfer or at a midway point between the parents’ residences along the highway, like a rest stop or gas station.
The “Middle-of-the-Road” Solution in Child Transportation Issues
While most parties can agree to pick-up and drop-off times that work with the schedules of parents and children, transportation duties are not as easy. When parties divide the responsibility, they can alternate who does the driving to pick up and drop off the children for weekend visitations. Or they can agree that one party drives them to the other party’s residence, and the other parent drives them back after visitation. Alternatively, the parents can meet halfway for pick-up and drop-off. Sometimes one parent agrees to do all the transporting. Parties who cannot agree on the driving share get a judge’s order of the transportation duties.
Leaving the decision of who drives for custody exchanges to a judge removes the possibility of quickly changing the driving duties when situations change. For example, one parent may get a new job with hours that prevent them from abiding by the judge’s order. In that case, a parent may designate someone else to pick up the children. They may have to modify their custody order to include that new driver. It helps if the parties agree to the third party. When the driver is someone both parties trust, there is unlikely to be an issue. However, when one party mistrusts the third party, or the third party is a stranger, the problem may cause contention.
Custody Exchange Modifications When Life Happens
Custody arrangements are typically long-term commitments, especially when children are young. Thus, the expectation is that life changes for everyone involved, and custody arrangements, including custody exchange, may need modification. And if one party is violating the custody agreement and order, the matter may end up in court. The compliant party files a motion to modify or enforce the custody and visitation agreement. More often, the parties can work out changes between them with the help of attorneys or a mediator.
Benefits of Keeping an Amicable and Flexible Position
Whenever possible, custody transfers should protect all involved from unnecessary strife. For that reason, neutral places for the exchange are best for those likely to be confrontational. A trusted party by both parents, who the children know and like, is ideal when the third party is willing and able. Even better, however, is the curbside exchange, as the parties can avoid interaction. When one party fears the other, however, they may not feel comfortable having the other parent at or near their residence. Regardless, finding alternatives to make everyone feel comfortable is the best solution. A judge’s order may not be ideal for the parties’ circumstances. And do not underestimate the power of courtesy in keeping exchanges peaceful, especially for the children. A quick email or phone call to advise the other parent of a delay in pick or drop off can avoid hostile exchanges. Also, keeping the children’s peace of mind always may motivate more courtesy and compromise.
A Trusted Family Lawyer Can be a Great Resource for All Parties Involved in Custody Exchange Planning in New Jersey
It is important to strongly consider using a family law attorney to help you with the terms when working out custody and visitation, especially with pick-up and drop-off. A knowledgeable family and custody lawyer at The Montanari Law Group can help you find the compromise point for an agreement and develop creative solutions to facilitate your children’s best interests while accommodating your life and your individual needs. Since exchanges could take place once or twice a week or more, it is an arrangement you must be able to follow, and we understand how essential this is to your daily living.
Our team of distinguished custody and visitation attorneys at The Montanari Law Group understands and meets the challenges present with high conflict relationships. We go the extra mile to figure out manageable compromises for all involved, maybe solutions you and your ex would not have considered. Also, when you and your ex cannot agree, our lawyers can help you file the appropriate motions to get your custody exchange requirements in front of a judge and present the most compelling arguments for what your family needs. Contact a family law attorney at our Little Falls office for the crucial custody exchange order in your life. We serve clients in Wayne, Haledon, Ridgewood, Millburn, Montvale, Verona, Passaic City, and other Passaic, Essex, and Bergen County areas. Call us at (973) 233-4396 for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment to talk to an attorney.