Avoid surprise drivers by making early introductions
Once two parents split up and start shuffling the children between two homes, there is always the risk that the parent responsible to pick up or return the children will have a scheduling conflict. Occasionally, it becomes necessary to have another person carry out the transportation responsibilities. But this is often the source of many curbside confrontations and petty courtroom fights.
For example, a custodial parent may be frightened or threatened to find her ex-husband’s mother picking up the children at the start of his visitation period. Or, she may react harshly to finding the ex-husband’s new girlfriend or new wife behind the wheel. Likewise, the non-custodial parent may feel uneasy returning his children to his ex-wife’s new boyfriend – a new guy in a strange car who has an unclear level of familiarity with the children.
Does the substitute driver have a valid driver’s license? Is his or her car properly registered and insured? Is there a car seat for infants? Working seat belts and airbags? Is he or she a safe person?
The best policy is to introduce all potential substitute drivers as early as possible. Address the possibility that scheduling conflicts may occur, and that the in-laws, or new “significant others” may do the driving from time to time. Provide assurances that the substitute drivers are licensed, are driving safe vehicles, and otherwise pose no risks to the children. If appropriate, identify the substitute drivers in your mediation settlements, divorce agreements, and court orders.
Addressing the issue of substitute drivers as early as possible will prevent the risks of an unnecessary domestic violence complaint or a time-consuming or costly motion before a family court judge.