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Parenting Plans-Transportation Between Houses

Friday, May, 23, 2014

This post is the first in a series of topics to consider in parenting plans. Upcoming topics will include discussions about the “custody” label, selecting schools, parenting schedules, and what probably will be an endless list after that. Each post will be related to a fairly narrow issue so in this post, we’ll address the relative simple issue of transportation between houses.

When creating your parenting plan, consider how the children will travel between the houses. Often, using school or daycare as the time of the transition can avoid the need to have transitions taking place in driveways or with awkward conversations on someone’s front porch.

Pick a Default

We encourage parents to pick a “default” arrangement where either the parent “receiving” the children or the parent “delivering” the children does the driving. In reality, most parents select the routine that the parent to whose house the children will be going picks the children up from the other parent’s house.

Why is that choice so common? If a parent is picking up the children and is late to arrive (“you know how traffic is!”), the children are at least with their own stuff, perhaps in the comfort of their rooms. It may be annoying to the parent who might be scheduled to be somewhere after the children have been picked up, but at least this keeps the annoyance between the parents.

On the other hand, if one parent is dropping off the children and the “receiving” parent is late getting home, one parent is sitting in the car with the children in the other parent’s driveway. Now everyone is annoyed and displaced.

Also, consider the conversations you might be having with the children in the car ride either on the way to dropping them off or after picking them up. If you’re dropping them off, you’ll be working harder to come up with positive things to talk about without prying into their plans with the other parent. If you’re picking them up, you can have an upbeat conversation about things that you can all look forward to together.

It's Not Engraved in Stone

Whatever you do, make these decisions in your Parenting Agreement or your Property Settlement Agreement. This doesn’t mean you won’t deviate from the “default” from time-to-time (or maybe even a lot of the time) if it’s more logical or convenient for everyone but at least you’ll both know what to expect if nothing is said about a particular transition.

Avoid “Visitation”

Oh, one other benefit of having a default where the driving is balanced between the parents has to do with the idea of “visitation,” a label we try hard to ignore. If one parent is primarily picking up the children from the other parent’s house and then dropping them off, that parent may feel like he or she is “visiting” the children. This imbalance may make sense, however, when one parent is only going to be with the children for a limited time such as a dinner out together. In that case, having the parent pick up and drop off the children may make sense.

Get Your Act Together

To give you some warning, one of the next few posts coming up will be how to prepare to talk to your children about the upcoming changes. A quick summary of that post might say: “Don’t tell the kids anything about your plans until you know everything about your plans.” We’ll explain why that’s so important in the later post.

Never Legal Advice

As we always remind you, it’s VERY important that you don’t think of Resolution Point’s articles as “legal advice”. Our goal is to get you familiar with some of the ideas with very broad strokes. Please consult an attorney to determine how any of this may affect your actual situation.

Daniel R. Burk, President

Resolution Point LLC

(703) 668-0344