Divorce and Separation Guide: Transition Dos and Don’ts


Transitioning children back and forth between parents can be a difficult process.  The less opportunities for arguments helps to create a smoother transition for children.  Parents can help make the transition smoother by following these few tips.

Do:

  • Be cordial. The best way to handle bad situations related to the exchange of the children is simply to be cordial. Say hello and goodbye. If you’re dropping off the children, say, “have fun,” or “see you later.” Show your children that it is simply right to be polite.
  • Always be on time.
  • Get your hugs and kisses prior to the exchange.
  • Be mindful of your body language and demeanor.
  • If it’s Mother’s/Father’s Day or some meaningful holiday, help the children pick out an appropriate gift or card to take to the other parent.
  • Do your best not to show you are uncomfortable in the presence of the other parent.
  • Minimize the amount of stuff that goes from house to house.
  • Break the cycle of negative communication and dysfunction.
  • Demonstrate that you are the superior parent at all times in all situations.

Don’t:

  • • Don’t “discuss” anything, especially early on in the process. Other than immediate health concerns, like, “you might want to have a doctor look at that gash in Timmy’s head and here’s a towel to stop the bleeding until you get him to the hospital,” nothing else needs to be discussed then and there, at transition time. Nothing.
  • In case that wasn’t clear, let me repeat myself. Don’t discuss anything. Do not even think about having a discussion about money or child support at transition time. Do not make criticisms, suggestions, sarcastic comments, ultimatums, or requests for anything, such as additional time with the children or changes in plans or scheduling. All of this will probably end in an argument or dirty looks or some other counterproductive exchange if there is any parental tension looming about.
  • Do not dwell on goodbyes with the children. They will be just fine.
  • Do not tell your children to relay messages or information.
  • Do not give dirty looks or roll your eyes.
  • Do not say or do anything that would likely make the other parent uncomfortable. Avoid hot buttons!
  • Do not bring your new girlfriend or boyfriend. They have no business being involved in the exchange.
  • Do not pawn off the responsibility for transition. Show your children that you are either excited about their return or care enough to say, “See you later.”
  • Do not allow yourself to get drawn into non-productive interactions.

The list above can be found in the Taylor Law & Mediation’s Divorce and separation survival guide for parents. To request a PDF copy of the entire guide, please email mediation@taylorlm.com.