Handovers: How to minimise conflict and get it right

The primary aim of handovers is to enable children and their parents to have the best possible contact, with minimal friction. Protecting the wellbeing of the children, and the way they feel about contact, should be the top priority. Managing conflict, or avoiding it altogether helps to ensure that’s the case.

This week we’re taking a look at how handovers work and how to get them right, enablings parents and children alike to have an experience that’s as stress-free as possible.

What are handovers?

When two parents are separated or divorced, they may not want to maintain any contact with one another. In some cases, there might be a court Order in place (for example a Non-Molestation order) preventing contact between the parents. In situations like this, handovers need to be facilitated by an outside party, allowing both parents to spend enough quality time with their children. Ultimately, parental animosity should never be a barrier to contact.

How handovers can happen?

If contact doesn’t need to be supervised, then handovers can, in theory, take place in any agreed place and at any agreed time. However, this can only happen if the parents are able to discuss the arrangements for contact without an argument ensuing, and without anyone being at risk.

If a neutral place for contact cannot be agreed, that’s when a child contact centre can be the perfect solution. It provides a safe, neutral environment for you to spend time with your child or children, and minimises the worries and concerns of the resident parent

How to minimise friction?

Make clear arrangements beforehand and don’t change the plans last minute.

A big part of limiting friction during a handover is being organised. Make sure you know who is facilitating the handover. Know exactly when and where it will take place, and set off in good time.

Unless it’s agreed upon, don’t bring other people along to contact with you, whether you’re the one having contact or simply assisting the handover. This includes new partners. Unexpected and unwanted surprises can cause tension that children will inevitably pick up on.

It’s also really useful to make the children aware of what’s happening, too. They’re already experiencing disruption, so it’s important to try to minimise that where you can. Keeping them in the loop is a great start. For example, you could share a calendar of the arrangements with your child so they know what to expect. You could talk to them about what’s going to happen, and above all try to be positive. After all, it’s the children who are going to be at the centre of everything that’s going to happen.

Don’t use the time to talk about other issues. It’s about the children.

Parents often do this because it’s the only time they see the other parent. However, it’s really important to resist the urge to talk about other arrangements and focus on the here and now. Focus only on the contact session ahead and making this as positive an experience as possible.

After all, that’s what the handover is about. If you talk about other issues and start to argue, that could risk distress and upset, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

Keep communication polite and respectful.

Following on from that, it’s important to try and maintain a calm, polite and respectful demeanour towards the other parent so that the children feel comfortable. If the atmosphere is hostile, the children will pick up on that.

Beyond that, it’s also really important to stay respectful about your ex-partner even when they’re not around. It can be really damaging to your children’s relationship with them, or even with you. Staying impartial is the best attitude to have to ensure that your children have the best possible relationship with both of you.

If you’re looking for a supportive, safe environment for your handover, then get in touch with us at Starting Point Contact Centre today. Let us help you get your handover right.