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What child exchange details should a parenting plan address?

One issue that is important to address in a parenting plan is how the actual exchange of a child from one parent to another for visits and custody trade-offs is handled.

Parenting plans have various legal requirements based on state law. Here in Tennessee, for example, the law mandates a stipulation that parents can't drive with their children in the vehicle unless they have a valid driver's license.

That's a common-sense requirement. You might want to add details about what kind of safety features a vehicle must have and requirements that a child is placed in a safety seat or buckled in, depending on age and size.

There are many more details that parents can include to address exchange procedures and requirements. For example, you can specify who is allowed to be involved in these exchanges. Are only the parents allowed to do it or can a parent ask a third party (like a significant other or family member) to make the exchange?

Where can exchanges be made? Do they have to be made at the parents' homes or can parents pick up or drop off a child from school after a visit? Parents may choose another exchange site, like a family member's or mutual friend's home if it's more convenient or to help avoid conflicts from erupting between parents who still have issues with one another.

If parents stipulate whose responsibility to drop off and pick up a child, it can prevent confusion and conflict later on. Of course, a parent may need to make an exception, but that parent would generally be required to provide adequate notice to the co-parent.

You may want to include a requirement that a parent must deliver the child into the hands of the other parent or at least wait in the car until the child has safely gone into the home, school or other location before leaving.

Remember that a parenting plan should always focus on what's best for the child. That should be every parent's primary concern when drafting a plan. Of course, parenting plans require modification as kids get older and circumstances change. However, putting a detailed parenting plan in place at the beginning can help you and your soon-to-be ex as you begin this new phase of parenting.

Source: CustodyXChange, "Parenting Time and Exchanges Provision Examples," accessed June 06, 2018

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