How to Ensure a Visitation Exchange Goes Smoothly

Today, more and more divorced parents have shared custody arrangements. In Virginia, this means that the non-custodial parent (the parent who has the child less) spends more than 90 days with the child per year. This also means that there are frequent exchanges between you and your ex-spouse when picking-up and dropping-off your child. While many divorced couples handle these exchanges with dignity and respect, this is not always the case. But the least amount of conflict is ideal and in the best interests of your child. Here are a few tips to help ensure your child visitation exchange goes smoothly.


Whether picking-up or dropping-off your child, nothing is more frustrating than a perpetually late parent. Even if your ex-spouse is constantly late, you do not need to make matters worse by copying their behavior. Especially in a highly contentious divorce where bad feelings still linger, this type of behavior can ultimately result in a change of child custody.

Plan ahead and take traffic into consideration when picking-up and dropping-off your child. Punctuality can ensure your custody exchange goes smoothly and can significantly reduce any negative interactions you may have with your ex-spouse.

Avoid Last Minute Changes

Like tardiness, last minute changes can be incredibly frustrating for you and your ex. If you have agreed in advance to pick-up/drop-off your child at a particular place and time, stick to the schedule and avoid last minute changes. If something comes-up that absolutely prevents you from abiding by the plan, communicate with your ex-spouse as soon as possible to avoid last minute surprises and be as cooperative as you can.

Avoid Discussing Private Matters In Front Of Your Child

Custody exchanges are not the time to discuss matters of child support, alimony and other adult matters. Not only can these issues spark disagreements and bring-up negative emotions, they can make your child feel very uncomfortable and upset. Always put your child’s best interests first and discuss adult matters in private away from your child.

Prepare Your Child for the Visit

Your child may have a favorite toy or blanket that they are accustomed to sleeping with at night. Make sure you have packed these items in your child’s bag to avoid a nighttime meltdown. If your child attends after-school sports or karate classes, make sure you have packed the soccer cleats or uniform. Making sure you child is adequately prepared for their visit will not only eliminate disturbances in your child’s life, you can avoid upsetting your ex-spouse which can only lead to unnecessary drama.

Avoid Bringing Your New Boyfriend or Girlfriend

Introducing your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your child soon after a divorce can be a sensitive issue, so you should seriously consider when and where you make that introduction. However, try to avoid bringing your new love interest along to your custody exchanges. Not only can this make your child feel uncomfortable, your ex-spouse may also become upset or feel disrespected if you let your boyfriend or girlfriend tag along.

Depending on the circumstances of your divorce and the relationship you have with your ex-spouse, your child custody exchange can run smoothly or be stressful. By following the above tips, you can greatly reduce the risk of a contentious custody exchange which can greatly benefit not only you and your ex, but your child as well.

Dissolution of marriage and post-divorce issues can be a difficult and trying time for you as well as the entire family. If you are facing divorce or have other family law needs, the DiPietro legal team is here to help. Contact the DiPietro Law Group attorneys today to schedule a consultation with a caring professional at (888) 530-4374.

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