Custody Exchanges Often a Flashpoint for Anger


The news is filled with explosive headlines about anger and violence during child custody exchanges between parents:

These stories underline what good family lawyers already know — that custody exchanges are a flashpoint.  Often times, this is a mixture of an already angry situation between two parties, typically fighting over custody/visitation, and a tense scene where they must meet face-to-face.

Even in custody situations where there is no active fighting or anger, the discomfort of seeing talking with the ex can cause problems.  Because this may be the only time that the two parents see each other in person, one or both parents may wish to talk about issues that they cannot properly address by e-mail, texting, or even phone calls.  This can raise the temperature on the situation even more than usual.

Understanding this, judges and attorneys faced with potentially volatile custody cases will frequently try to set up custody/visitation exchanges which which diffuse or avoid such tense situations.  Some options which parents should consider are:

  • exchanges at a public place with lots of foot traffic, such as a shopping mall, or McDonald’s (a favorite for Hawaii exchanges);
  • Honolulu Police Department stations — although this is reserved for fairly serious situations, as most would prefer to minimize this kind of alarm to the children;
  • hand-offs by “friendly” third parties, such as family or friends, so as to avoid the face-to-face by the two parents (caveat:  having the exchange done by the new boyfriend/girlfriend of one of the parents may not be any better, and may even be worse);
  • exchanges done without both parties being present, typically at school/afterschool program (example:  picking up on Friday afterschool, or dropping off Monday at school, both instances where the parties do not come into contact); and
  • hand-offs arranged such that the parties do not have to come in contact with one another (for example, the dropping-off parent stays in the car, and the receiving parent stays in the house, and the child walks from car to house unaccompanied, but both parents watching).

This is just a sampling of suggestions, but many other creative solutions exist for those parents, attorneys, and judges committed to avoiding potentially bad situations.  To speak with attorneys experienced in dealing with complicated and heated custody matters, give us a call at 593-2199, and we will be happy to talk to you.

About Gavin K. Doi

Gavin, a founding partner of Doi/Luke, was born and reared in Honolulu, Hawai‘i, graduating from McKinley High School, and receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver College of Law in Denver, Colorado. Previously, Gavin worked with the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the AmeriCorps Domestic Violence Clinic. An advocate of pro bono legal work, Gavin volunteers time with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii and the Hawai’i State Bar Association. In 2013, Gavin co-authored the book Child Custody Litigation and Settlements (Aspatore Books/Thomson West), penning the section "Working with Your Client Towards a Successful Child Custody Case." Gavin is a member of the Hawaii State Bar Association and the HSBA Family Law Section, and was presented with the 2002 Justice Award by the Hawaii State Bar Association, which honors one lawyer annually for their outstanding contribution to the ideals of justice. The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission honored Gavin in 2012 for his pro bono service to the community. Gavin has extensive experience in divorce, paternity, child custody, child support, restraining orders, and other family law matters, and has a Distinguished rating with Martindale-Hubble®/, and an Avvo rating of 10 out of 10. He can be e-mailed at: .

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