Handover of the children can often be a time when both parents come into contact with each other. Even if the separation was amicable, it can still be a daunting prospect for a parent to see their former partner. In circumstances where there is animosity between the parents, handover can be used as an opportunity for one parent to harass or upset the other. It is therefore important to establish some ground rules especially when a parent may feel intimidated by their ex, and there is a chance that the children could hear the conversation.
Here are some tips:
- If you feel intimidated by your former partner, consider whether you involve a third party, such as a relative or a friend to assist with handover.
- Consider where handover should take place. If you have an amicable relationship, then this could take place outside the children’s home. If not, then consider a neutral place, such as a contact centre or another public place. When the children are of school age, handover can take place at school, whether it is drop off and/or pick up. This avoids the need for parents to come into contact on a regular basis.
- Ensure the children are ready on time for pick up. Frequent delays can annoy the other parent.
- Make sure you have everything you need for the children before you leave, for example their favourite toy, school uniform, homework etc. This will avoid the need for a second trip and cause the children to feel anxious.
- Be on time when you drop off the children. If you are running late, let the other parent know in advance. If traffic is consistently bad around the same time you drop off the children, then discuss with the other parent a different time for drop offs.
- Be courteous to the other parent during handover, and stay calm even if the other parent makes a comment which upsets you.
- Avoid the temptation to have a difficult conversation with the other parent during handover. It could antagnonise the other parent and the children could hear the conversation. Make it a quick goodbye.
- Avoid bringing a new partner to handover, especially if you consider it will upset the other parent.
- Consider how you will communicate with the parent going forward. Will it be by text message, email, telephone or face to face?
Remember the handover arrangements don’t need to be set in stone; the arrangements are always reviewable.
If you have any questions, feel free to telephone me (Kate Lovegrove) on 01959 580680. I am a specialist family solicitor based in Sevenoaks, Kent.
This article was first published on Kate's blog here: http://www.lovegrovefamilylawyer.uk/tips-amicable-handover-children/