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Joint custody is often in the leading interests of children who have divorced parents. After all, kids tend to thrive when both parents play an active role in their care and upbringing. Nonetheless, while you may have agreed to co-parent your kids, you may not get along with your ex-spouse. 

Your co-parenting relationship means you cannot cut your former spouse out of your life altogether. On the contrary, you must discuss important child-related topics. You also probably must see your ex every time you exchange the kids at the beginning and end of your custody time. This encounter does not have to be stressful, though. Here are three tips for a low-stress custody hand-off: 

  1. Make sure the kids are ready

Every parent knows that preparing the kids to leave the house can be an almost Herculean feat. Nonetheless, you must make sure your kids are ready for the transition. To do so, you may want to encourage them to pack their belongings the night before. You also want to be sure your children are wearing weather-appropriate clothing. 

  1. Arrive on time

Because time is valuable, no one likes to wait. While you cannot guarantee you will always be on time for the custody exchange, that should be your goal. Leaving the house a bit early is a good idea. Furthermore, if you are going to be late, communicate with your ex-spouse. When calling or texting, be realistic about your new arrival time. 

  1. Respect the parenting plan

If you have a parenting plan or custody agreement, be sure you follow its language. If you deviate from it, your spouse may use your actions against you. Conversely, if you find the parenting plan is not working, you may want to explore your options for modifying it. 

Co-parents have a few ways to make shared custody easier. One of these, of course, is ensuring the parenting-time hand-off is as low-stress as possible. Fortunately, with just a bit of preparation and diligence, you can likely exchange the kids without causing additional drama.