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Program aims to reduce conflict between divorced parents

One Illinois county has started a new program that is intended to make the exchange of a child between parents less stressful for everyone involved. DeKalb County has joined two other counties with similar programs. The county will offer the Neutral Exchange Program on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings.

A judge must mandate participation in the program, and parents must understand how the program works and be separately interviewed to participate. When the parents prepare to transfer custody, they go to separate waiting rooms at the Family Service Agency. A representative will then take the child from one parent and transfer the child to the other parent. Parents may specifically request participation in the program if they desire.

In addition to reducing conflict between parents and the exposure of children to that conflict, the program also may provide a better place for the exchange to take place than some of the usual spots such as parking lots. A filing fee instituted by the court in April and the DeKalb County Community Foundation are funding the program.

Individuals who are separating and dealing with child custody issues may wish to consult an attorney even if the separation is amicable. Issues around child custody, visitation and support may best be worked out within a legal framework for the protection of all involved. In child custody cases, a court will try to decide on the solution that serves the best interests of the child. However, determining this solution may be complex, and attorneys may be helpful in working on strategies that serve those best interests. Some of the options may include joint physical custody or joint legal custody with the child spending more time with one parent than the other.

Source: Daily Chronicle, "DeKalb County's new program offers space for child-custody exchanges", Adam Poulisse, Jan. 5, 2015

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