Changeover: The process by which one parent collects or delivers the child/children to the other parent at the commencement or the conclusion of their time with the child/children.
To choose McDonalds or not to choose McDonalds? Who would have thought that a multinational fast food chain would also end up becoming one of the most popular changeover locations for parents in Family Law matters?
A changeover location can seem quite a minor decision when coming to an agreement with your former spouse about where the changeovers for the children shall be undertaken. There are many considerations which must be had however in arriving at such a decision. A failure to make such considerations could result in damaging effects on the arrangements for the children, such as a fall out between the parents, a risk to the safety of one of the parties or the children or heightened anxiety for the children.
Many parents do not want changeovers to occur at their respective premises due to privacy issues, safety concerns or conflict with their ex spouse. In lieu of changeovers occurring at the parents’ respective premises the following options are common choices.
McDonalds (or fast food restaurant)
Many parents choose this option because McDonalds is a busy, public place, which generally purports a happy atmosphere. Changeovers often occur in the carpark of an agreed McDonalds location, or inside the restaurant.
- Happy atmosphere
- Public place
- Many convenient locations to choose from, as well as generous opening hours
- Children may expect fast food at each changeover
- Carparks can be dark or poorly lit
- Older children may feel uncomfortable with such a public changeover
As a general rule Police Stations do not allow changeovers to occur inside their buildings. Nor will they monitor changeovers. However many parents often choose to complete changeovers outside the Police Station particularly when their relationship with their former spouse was one of domestic violence.
- Creates feeling of security
- Helpful in situations where domestic violence has previously been an issue between the parents and the victim wants an increased feeling of safety
- CCTV footage is often present outside the building where changeovers generally occur
- Makes it apparent to the child that there is strong disharmony between Mum and Dad
- Cold and unfamiliar environment for children
- Mistakenly parents often believe that having a changeover at the Police Station means that the Police can automatically assist in such changeovers, when they in fact do not have the jurisdiction to do so
Increasingly, libraries are being used for changeovers.
- Quiet place (suitable for anxious children)
- The children have entertainment through books/games
- Public place
- Not always in locations convenient for both parties
- Opening times are limited and are not practical for changeovers occurring before 9.00 am or after 5.00 pm or on some weekends
- If the child is likely to be distressed, loud or upset at changeover then staff at the library may be critical
- Children are often very comfortable and feel safe in such an environment
- Parents are less likely to argue in the presence of a third party (such as a grandparent)
- If a grandparent agrees to conduct the changeovers, the parents have less immediate contact (appropriate in situations of high conflict)
- Grandparents may not always be available for changeover times
- May place undue pressure on the grandparents resulting in family conflict
- Suggests to the children that the parents cannot undertake the changeovers themselves and therefore strong disharmony exists between Mum and Dad
When considering a changeover location it is important to consider what is appropriate for your individual situation. Given the breadth and extensive changeover options available, it is advised that you contact a qualified Family Law solicitor prior to making an agreement with an ex spouse about changeover locations relevant to your situation.