In a Colorado custody case, whether it’s a divorce or allocation of parental rights case, one of the details people often overlook in their parenting plan or orders is how to handle the parenting time exchanges of the minor children from one parent to the other. Though one might think that parents will have the ability to figure out transferring the children from one to another on their own, the reality is that without detailed language governing exchanges, ambiguity and confusion can make that which should be simple a source of debate and contention. Because of this, it is normal for Denver custody attorneys to build in specific language regarding how and when parenting time exchanges shall occur. There is no one right answer as to how parenting time exchanges should be conducted.
If the parents can remain relatively amicable, and open lines of communication are available, parenting time exchanges usually aren’t too big of an issue. Even in these amicable cases though, it’s important that issues like fairness in travel time and costs are considered so that resentments don’t build up. Irregular work schedules, rush hour traffic, extracurricular activities, before and after school care, and the costs associated with these things can tax the patience of one or both parties. On the uglier end of the spectrum, I have seen cases in which parenting time exchanges need to take place in a secure setting, neutral setting, or supervised setting, perhaps due to domestic violence, behavioral issues, or substance abuse. Of course, these are the outliers on that spectrum.
One of the most common and effective solutions to preventing chaotic exchanges, or chaos in general, is to have orders in place indicating that the party beginning his or her parenting time with a child is responsible for picking up the child from school or daycare, with the party ending his or her parenting time being responsible for delivering the child to school or daycare. In this scenario, the school becomes the exchange point, the parents don’t have to see each other, and each parent has to arrange their work schedule and transportation issues without interference from or interaction with the other party. In other words, each parent has to figure it out for themselves how to get to the school or daycare on time, and then do it. Normal routines follow, and the exchanges ultimately do not become that big an issue. Likewise, this type of transition greatly reduces the likelihood of a child being subjected to the conflict that can sometimes arise when parents have to see each other. Moreover, one parent is not left waiting around for the other, potentially tardy one to arrive.