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How to Help Your Kids Prepare for Custody Exchanges

Posted on April 15th, 2022

At the Harris Family Law Group, our experienced family law attorneys in Los Angeles know that when parents of minor children get divorced, the kids are the priority.

Once the custody agreement is in place, the kids will split their time between each parent’s home. That means seemingly endless pick ups and drop offs as they grow.

Unfortunately, not all California custody exchanges go off without a hitch.

With so much change occurring during the divorce, and all the changes they must make after, kids are certainly going to convey how the visitation agreement affects their day-to-day lives.

That could mean expressing their emotions through meltdowns or tantrums.

The good news is, this behavior is completely normal. The bad news is, there is no single solution.

Here are a few ways both parents can help assure their kids that the transition periods between homes are nothing to fret about.

Be Respectful of Each Other

One reason kids have emotional breakdowns during custody exchanges is because they hear their parents saying negative things about each other during their time at each person’s home.

Another reason they may feel uneasy about pick ups and drop offs is because the parents treat each other with disrespect during the transition.

If your kids are worried about how you and your ex-spouse interact, they are going to express that anxiety during custody exchanges, which can manifest in crying, tantrums, or refusals to go with the other parent.

Do not put your kids through this. Instead, watch what you say about your ex-spouse when they are around, and be respectful during all interactions, so the kids understand that they are the most important part of each of your lives.

Ask Your Kids What the Real Problem Is

Divorces can cause an emotional overload for everyone involved, including the kids.

Keep the communication channels open and ask your kids what is bothering them. The more you know about why custody exchanges upset them, the better equipped you will be to create solutions.

It may be fleeting anxiety about leaving one parent alone for the weekend. It is also possible that your child is just going through a natural transition and needs direction. Both parents must be involved in creating positive outlets for the kids’ emotions, so they can help them transition to their new lives with fewer meltdowns.

State Your Combined Expectations Regarding Their Behavior

Setting expectations is a promising idea for both parents and children.

Explain — separately or together, if possible — that you expect your children to respect both parents and their roles equally. Explain that you expect them to get their things together and to pack everything they may need or want while at the other’s house. Explain that you expect them to be polite. And, finally, explain that throwing a tantrum will not change the fact that they must split their time between the two homes.

If they continue to have behavioral issues and you suspect there is something else causing their anxiety, you may want to talk to a professional therapist about their emotional issues.

If you believe your child’s well-being is legitimately at risk while they are with their other parent, and would like to revisit your custody arrangement, talk to our Los Angeles County child custody attorneys at the Harris Family Law Group today to discuss circumstances during a free consultation by calling (310) 745-8644.