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Curbside Pickup

You are going through a divorce and one of the lawyers or the guardian ad litem mentions that during the exchange of the children, there should be “curbside pickup.” You shake your head not having any idea what “curbside pickup” means, why it is necessary, and what effect, if it may have on your children. Your spouse is proposing it, so you are already suspicious as to what the motivation may be behind it.

“Curbside pickup” is where the parent who has visitation rights must drop off the children from their car and let the children go into their home or apartment, without the parent accompanying them. Same thing for pick ups. The parent waits in their car and the custodial parent sends the children out the door and over to the car.

When is it appropriate? Perhaps, in cases of high conflict or where there may have been an episode of domestic violence in the past between the parties, but not enough for there to be an active current domestic abuse injunction in effect. Usually it is the custodial parent who requests curb side pick up and the visiting parent who has to transport the children back and forth from the custodial parent who objects to it.

What kind of a message does it send to the children though? That their parents hate other that much, cannot be civil to one another for even 30 seconds, that the children must be exchanged between the two parents in a way that they have no contact whatsoever with one another. The parents has such rage, such conflict that they cannot say hello or goodbye without fighting, name calling, calling the police, profanity or perhaps the risk for a physical confrontation, every time the children need to be exchanged. Are things really “that bad?”

While it may be appropriate under some limited, exigent cases, too many times I see it being advocated as a manipulative tool by the custodial parent to really make the other parent look bad to the children, and to control the other person’s behavior. I think it is demeaning to the non custodial parent and what really concerns me, is the message it gives the children.

While it may work on a warm sunny day in July, what happens in the middle of December when it is dark out at 5 pm and snowy or icy. As the custodial parent, are you really comfortable just letting your children run out the front door, down the driveway or across your yard to a waiting car? What if you can’t see the road from your window in your house? Do you walk the children to the car? If you are doing that, why can’t your former spouse come to your front door, ring the doorbell and wait outside for a minute while you send the children out? Do you really think “curbside pickup” is a good thing? If so, make your best case for it right here by leaving a comment.

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