When parents have separated and the relationship after is strained child handover can be complicated and a source of anxiety for all involved.
It is not unusual for disagreements to arise between parents over what belongings and/or possessions need to be provided at handovers for provision of contact and returned again after contact.
For example, parents having contact discovering that the child was not provided with clothing they require for the weekend like a team sports kit. Or on the flipside parents who provide clothing/equipment resenting that those items are not brought back when the child returns.
Similarly bad feeling can arise when items purchased by the child are only allowed to be kept within one household and the child is not permitted to transfer them from one house to the other.
The handover is where your children will see the two adults they love most, together, at the same time. A little planning can go a long way. Here’s five things to consider.
1. Try to keep it amicable. You do not need to be best friends, however, exchanging pleasantries, being polite, helping with bags, can demonstrate to your child that even though you are no longer in a relationship together, you are still respectful of each other.
2. Think about where you collect/drop off the children. Sometimes it works for parents to drop or collect children from each other’s homes. For some this may feel uncomfortable and you might want to think of an alternative. It can be helpful to combine the handover with a school or nursery pick up or drop off. Wherever you decide to try make it a happy place for the children.
3. Be organised. Moving between two homes is stressful enough for children. It can be frustrating but try to help them with the items they need to move between the homes. A musical instrument, swimming gear, school bags, rugby kit whatever it might be. Try to keep their needs at the front of your mind. Children’s lives can be busy and you should both be kept in the loop. There are lots of apps and tools that can help you share diaries so you know when clubs are and sports kits are needed for example.
4. Be on time. Not only does this help reduce conflict but also helps support your child through the transition. If you are running late, send a simple text message and let the other parent know. Let the child know you have texted the other parent. This way, they can see the courteous exchange. If you need to change arrangements try to agree between you a timeframe for giving the other parent notice.
5. Keep communication polite. Handovers are not the time for bad-mouthing your ex-partner, argue over arrangements or who forgot to bring what. This should be about your child and showing them that you are about them. If there are issues to discuss make a separate time.
Whilst much of the above may be seen to be common sense, some of these issues can form areas of dispute between parents. Lead by example and remember that you are doing this to make it as easy as possible for your children.
Parenting after separation can be difficult and if you are finding contact handovers difficult you can reach out to a specialist lawyer who will be able assist you in making informed decisions. If you need to speak with a children law specialist please get in touch.
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