1. Have your kids’ clothes and belongings ready before visitation or the beginning of your ex’s parenting time. If dad or mom doesn’t have clothes at his or home, pack your children’s clothing in advance. Even if there are clothes at the other parents’ house, there might be some special teddy bear or a piece of electronics that your children will want to bring with them.
2. Mentally prepare your kids. Talk to them about all the fun things they will do at their other home. Maybe there is a dog or cat they will be able to play with. Maybe there are friends in the neighborhood they will be able to see.
3. The exchange should be on neutral territory. Sometimes especially if you are recently divorced or recently remarried, having your ex come in to the living room to pick up the kids is a recipe for disaster! Have dad or mom wait outside in their car and you bring the kids out or even better have them pick up and drop off the kids at school, daycare or camp schedule permitting.
4. Avoid the involvement of outsiders. It may be tempting to have the new boyfriend or new husband there for moral support but that will only increase everyone’s tension and your children will pick up on it. Don’t have them right there during the exchange!
5. Get your kids involved. Ask them what they would like to bring to mom or dad’s house. Let them know who will be picking them up at school. Make a color coded calendar posted on the refrigerator with Mom and Dad days highlighted.
6. Stick to the schedule whenever possible. Your kids need consistency but show a willingness to be flexible with your ex as well. Your children will pick up on that too. You will be modelling a spirit of cooperation which will serve them in good stead for years to come.
As a family law attorney, I can help draft a Custody Judgement that eases these transitions and guide you on making these weekly exchanges easier.