Exchange of Child Custody in New Jersey – Pick Up and Drop Off Basics

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Every custody and parenting time (visitation) agreement should address the issue of pick up and drop off of the children. In the low or no-conflict situation the parties can agree to pick up and drop off at the other person’s residence or any mutually convenient location. However, in a higher conflict situation child pick up and drop off has to be structured to deal with the possibility of a negative parental interaction.

In a higher conflict parental situation the custody exchange can be “curbside”, at a third-party’s residence, at the child’s school, or in a worst case scenario, at the police station. In all of these situations the idea is to reduce or remove the ability for the parties to interact face-to-face.

Curbside pick up and drop off is the term used for an exchange in which one parent arrives at the other parent’s residence, either by car or on foot, and they do not go up to the other parent’s door. They wait at the curb. They do not enter onto the other parent’s property. The child comes out of the residence and walks to meet the parent doing the pick up at the curb. In this situation there is no parental interaction. (Of course, with an infant who has not begun walking there will have to be more parental interaction).

Alternatively, the parties can agree to have the custody transfer take place at a third-party’s residence, and if necessary the pick up and drop-off can be curbside. Having the pick up and drop-off at the child’s school also avoids the need for the parties to interact. On the day of the exchange, one party can drop the child in the morning and the other parent can pick the child up in the evening.

Some parents agree to meet in a public place, like a mall. If there is highway driving involved some parents agree to meet at a designated rest stop on the highway.

Times

The pick up and drop off times can be whatever time the parents agree to. The default time for returning the children is a time which allows them to unwind in an unhurried manner, readjust to being home, and get ready for the next day.

Who Does The Picking Up and Dropping Off

One of the more contentious custody exchange issues that parents grapple with is who is shuttling the children back and forth. In some situations the parties will agree to split those duties. For instance, if one weekend the father picks the children up from the mother’s residence and then brings them back, maybe the next weekend the mother can drive the children to the father’s residence and then pick them up. Some parents meet at a designated halfway point. As mentioned above, the school or childcare facility can also serve as a pick up and drop off point, with one parent doing the picking up, and one parent doing the dropping off. In some situations the custodial or non-custodial parent likes the routine of picking up and dropping off. If the parties can’t agree on pick up and drop off a judge can make the call, and whatever call they make the parties will have to live with.

Pick up or Drop Off by Family Members or Third-Parties

Another issue which can lead to increased tension is when one of the parent’s sends a family member or third-party to pick up or drop off the children. Is it okay for you or the other parent to send their boyfriend or girlfriend to pick up the child from school? Can you send your brother or sister? The answer is that it depends on the facts of your individual case. If the non-parent sent to pick up or drop off the child is a complete stranger, or you know the person, and you know that they are untrustworthy, or that they may harm your child, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed.  If you have negative history with the third-party that too needs to be addressed.

Changing The Dates, Times, or Locations of The Custody Exchange

If you want to change the date, times or locations of the custody exchange, and the other parent is not in agreement with you, if necessary, you can file a motion with the court to adjust the visitation agreement. Most of these cases can be worked out without the need for a Judge to make a decision. Similarly, if the other parent has been violating the terms of the custody and visitation agreement that you have you can seek court intervention to enforce your agreement.

Whatever your situation don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions that you need answered regarding custody and visitation. I have been helping clients resolve visitation issues for over 20 years. I serve clients primarily in Bergen, Passaic, Hudson and Essex counties. If you have any questions about pick up and drop off times, and locations for the transfer of custody between you and your children’s other parent you can reach me at 201-731-3086 or via e-mail using the e-mail contact form. Your consultation is free.