When you’re dealing with a toxic ex-spouse or ex-partner, where (and how) custody exchanges need to take place isn’t usually the first thing on your mind — but it’s important to think ahead. Safety can become an issue when your ex’s frustrations boil over if they aren’t getting everything their way.

The number one thing you need to remember is that you need to have a safe place to transition the kids from one household to the other for their visitation. Having your ex at your door (or being obligated to go to your ex’s home) is never the best option. A public location will usually encourage a toxic ex to behave themselves far better than they will in private.

So where can you arrange for custody exchanges to take place? Consider these suggestions:

  • Your child’s daycare or school. You may be able to arrange things so that you and your ex never even cross paths if you set up the custody exchanges so that one of you drops your child off at the beginning of the school day and the other picks the child up at the end.
  • Your local police station. Many police stations invite high-conflict couples to make custody exchanges either in the lobby or right out front of the building — where there’s usually plenty of uniformed peace officers around and lots of security cameras.
  • Through a third party. Sometimes, it’s better to have a family member or friend (one that can stay calm and remain neutral) actually escort your child back and forth for visitation — at least until tempers cool.

Whatever your preferred option, it’s always important to make sure that you address all issues involving custody and visitation in your parenting plan. That way, there’s no doubt about the procedure being followed and your legal rights are clear.