Every time you and your co-parent hand off your child to the other one, you seem to get into an ugly fight. Your child witnesses it, your neighbors hear it and it leaves everyone – particularly your child – anxious or depressed. Supervised custody exchanges may be the answer.
Supervised exchanges (also known as safe exchanges or monitored exchanges) are sometimes ordered by the court because a judge believes they’re necessary. Sometimes one or both parents will request the court to order that child custody exchanges be supervised. In other cases, parents decide without involving the court that they’re better off letting one or more third parties get involved in the exchanges so they don’t have to encounter each other.
Supervised custody exchanges shouldn’t be confused with supervised visitations, which are ordered for the safety of the child. The purpose of supervised exchanges is to protect parents from getting into a conflict (verbal and/or physical) with each other and protect the child from witnessing it.
There are a number of options for supervised exchanges, whether you and your co-parent decide on your own to go that route or a court orders it. Even if you decide on your own to have supervised exchanges, it’s a good idea to include the details in your parenting plan.
Sometimes a family member or friend will transport the child or be at the home or a neutral location to supervise the hand-off. It’s essential that they be up to the task of dealing with one or two angry parents and that they don’t further aggravate the situation by taking sides.
Another option, and one often chosen by judges, is to use an exchange center. These are often facilities run by the local government or private organization where supervised visitations take place and safe exchanges can be made. There’s typically a fee for monitored exchanges at these locations.
If you’re considering asking for supervised exchanges or if the court has ordered them, your attorney can tell you more about what’s involved. Remember that no matter how you feel about them, they’re probably in your child’s best interests.