Normally, when children go from one parent to the other during pick up or drop off after visitation with the other parent, no problems occur during exchange of children.
But what if there is high conflict between the two parents, and either a criminal protective order, domestic violence restraining order or family law restraining order in place prohibiting contact between parents? In these cases, parents might want to select a location for exchange of the children which of itself promotes peaceful exchange, while at the same providing a safe environment for the protected party.
In my experience, the following places are reasonably suited for exchange of children.
Pick-up and/or drop-off curb-side at the home of either parent is not good in high conflict situations. Pick-up and drop-off at school is good because there need be no contact between parents. If this is inconvenient, exchange in a public place, such as a local McDonald’s, is a good alternative.
If there’s an issue regarding late arrival, remember places such as McDonald’s offer time-stamped purchase receipts to indicate arrival time. Present your receipt to the Court and that way there’s no question as to when you arrived for pick-up or drop-off.
Also, keep in mind courts allow third persons to perform pick-up and/or drop-off, such as a grandparent, relative or significant other. For that matter, bringing a third person to exchanges can be helpful if there’s a need for accurate reconstruction of disputed events.
Other good locations for exchange are churches on Sunday, the office of a therapist or doctor when convenient or, in a worst case scenario, at a local LAPD or Sheriff’s substation. People are generally on their best behavior at these locations.
Keep in mind you want the exchanges to occur at a place with the least amount of stress on your child while at the same time providing reasonable security for yourself. Take reasonable steps to provide for your own safety. If you have a spiteful or bitter ex-spouse, pick a location for the exchanges providing the best protection for you and your children.
The past is a good indicator of the future. If there’s been a lack of impulse control, angry outbursts or violence, always exchange at a police station. Safety for everyone is the paramount concern.
by Russell H. Thaw, Esq. and Charlotte Thaw, Law Clerk, Esq. – The Reape – Rickett Law Firm