Divorcing with children means you will inevitably have to interact with your ex when it's time for you to exchange custody. Those interactions may be brief, but they can be a source of significant issues for families going through divorce.
Despite your best intentions to stay calm, interacting during custody exchanges may lead to arguments in front of the children. In some circumstances, it could increase the likelihood of a violent outburst. Inviting your ex into your new home may also make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Agreeing to exchange custody at a neutral location is a good way for your family to avoid the most stressful aspects of custody exchange. You can request that the parenting plan in your divorce allow for a neutral public location for custody exchanges.
You are less likely to argue in public
If you pick a location near your home, like a fast food restaurant or a park, there will likely be other people or at least traffic nearby whenever you meet for a custody exchange. The presence of an audience other than your neighbors or your children could help keep you from getting into an unnecessary argument.
If communication remains straightforward and professional, you don't have to worry about arguing in front of the children and upsetting them or exacerbating the tensions between you and your ex. You will also have an easier time developing a healthy coparenting relationship in the future.
You can have someone else present to handle the exchange
In situations where you really can't keep yourself from getting emotional, a neutral location also makes it easier to work with a third-party for the custody change. That person can serve as an intermediary between you and your ex, taking the child from their vehicle and bringing them to yours.
In some cases, a state worker can fill that role, particularly if one parent has supervised visitation. Otherwise, you could ask a family friend, a neighbor or even a childcare professional to be part of your routine custody exchanges.
Public custody exchanges help if you're worried about stalking
If your ex remains fixated on your break up or if there were abuse issues prior to the decision to divorce, you may not want your ex to know where you live. Making your custody exchange location a public place ensures that you receive the protection that comes from nearby witnesses. It also means that your ex doesn't have to get your home address.
Negotiating a public exchange of custody as part of the temporary custody order during your divorce in North Carolina may be the easiest thing for you and your kids. It may even be good to include in the final parenting plan, at least until you and your ex have worked through the residual emotions from your marriage.