If you're dealing with a high-conflict ex, you're likely wracking your brain so as not to forget to add any important details to your child custody order. Below are three such details that can help to keep high conflict situations under control and give you a sense of peace and security.
1. Transportation Arrangements
To avoid conflict, it's important to have transportation guidelines in place as soon as possible during a separation.
Questions to answer in this section of the custody order include who will do the traveling and where the custody exchange will take place. It's suggested that the receiving parent – the parent whose visitation time is beginning – should do the picking up of the child. If the relationship between you and your ex is high conflict, consider meeting at a police station or allowing for the receiving parent to pick the child up from school – this will keep contact between you and your ex minimal and ensure a smooth pick up.
2. Time Frame For Reimbursement
If your ex is required to pay for part of your child's expenses, such as medical bills, daycare fees, or activity fees, it's important to set a time frame for when reimbursements will be required.
For example, if your child has a doctor's appointment, consider adding that the parent who's paying reimbursement will be notified as soon as the bill is issued and will be required to reimburse you for their portion of the cost within 30 days of notification. Since the custodial parent will likely be required to pay the entire co-pay or fee up front, it's important that there be court-ordered guidelines to ensure that the custodial parent is reimbursed and not paying the entirety of all bills.
3. Parent-Child Communication During Visitations
It's important that children are able to stay in contact with both of their parents at all times. This will keep parent-child relationships strong and promote bonding. If you're dealing with a high-conflict ex, however, you may want to add guidelines into your custody order.
For example, if you're worried that your ex will screen your phone calls and not allow you to speak with your child when they're visiting them, consider adding a clause that allows for good night phone calls or video chat sessions. While your child should be spending time with their other parent, it's still important that they know you're there and will be speaking with you every day – this is a great option for children who suffer from separation anxiety.
Dealing with a high-conflict ex is no walk in the park, but a properly written custody order can help you to avoid a lot of issues and keep the conflict as low as possible. For more ideas of things to consider adding to your custody order, consult with your family law attorney. Attorneys like those at Stimpson & Associates PC may be able to meet your needs in this area.