You and your co-parent might not have ever been interested in being in one another’s lives long term. Thankfully, creating distance between the two of you is still possible — even when you must divide parenting time.

Ahead of receiving a court-approved custody arrangement, you can create rules and details you would like to add to your parenting plan. Think about what you can do to maintain boundaries with your co-parent, decide which places will be off-limits during exchanges and choose what protocol you expect one another to follow if you’d like to make changes to the custody schedule.

Make way for minimal contact and conflict

Perhaps seeing and speaking to your child’s other parent are sure ways to stir up conflict. When co-parents aren’t on great terms, it can be helpful to devise a highly detailed plan about pick-up and drop-off locations and times. Having consistent and specific guidelines will give co-parents no reason to be constantly checking in with one another. And if the exchange locations remain unchanged, then both parties will have ample notice to plan for traffic and any other obstacles that may cause them to run late.

Choose a public location for custody exchanges

Driving to your co-parent’s home may seem outside of your comfort zone, even if you don’t go inside. To detach yourself from the life of your child’s other parent, you can opt for doing exchanges at a public location. Maybe this is at a public park that is equidistant from both of your homes. Or you could also try doing exchanges at your child’s school to avoid seeing each other completely.

Create a schedule change request system

It’s important to think ahead about what to do if you or your co-parent anticipate that you will not be able to make it to a predetermined child pick-up or drop-off. Choosing a preferred method for how you’d like to communicate schedule change requests may help you remain cordial with one another. For example, maybe you decide to send requests via email to maintain a business-like relationship. Plus, setting up a rule about how far in advance you will accept a request might ensure that your co-parent doesn’t expect you to be flexible at any given time.

Creating tighter rules from the get-go will be easier than trying to rethink parenting plan details further down the line or making another visit to court. To get it right the first time, you can work with an experienced family law attorney.