No matter how contentious a divorce is or how soured the relationship has become between an unmarried couple that share children, there is no reason for children to get stuck in the middle between warring adults.

In fact, it’s the job of the parents to make kids feel safe and secure, but that doesn’t always happen when parents occupy the same space. One occasion that can lead to arguments between parents is during the child custody exchange.

Most custody agreements outline custody and visitation schedules that list when and how the exchange between parents will take place, but in some hostile relationships, more needs to be done. Children need, and deserve, to spend time with both parents, but they shouldn’t be put in harm’s way.

That’s just what happened in Florida recently, however. A custody exchange resulted in a brawl that culminated in shots being fired. Fortunately, no one was injured.

If you and your ex-partner don’t get along and you fear tempers could flare while exchanging the kids, here are some ideas to make things run smoothly.

  1. Meet in a public location, such as your child’s school or near a police station.
  2. Bring a third party with you who can be neutral, who can ease tensions and who can serve as a witness if things go awry. Don’t bring a new significant other or someone who has shown hostility to the other party.
  3. Ask other people to make the exchange. Perhaps you have mutual friends that you, your ex and the kids are comfortable with. If you go this direction, the custody agreement might need to spell this out.
  4. If you see trouble brewing, don’t fight. Ask if you can discuss this later via phone or email when the kids are asleep. It’s a good way to keep the peace but also to show your kids that things can be resolved without a fight.
  5. Be on time so that you don’t inconvenience the other parent. That could lead to a fight.

If these tips do not solve disputes during the custody exchange, contact your family law attorney to seek assistance with the situation.