Offices in Ottawa and Perth
(613) 722-1500

CONTACT US (613) 722-1500

The Dos and Don’ts of Access Exchanges

The Dos and Don’ts of Access Exchanges


Posted August 20, 2019

The pick-up and drop-off process can be a difficult time for children. It is important that parents make this as smooth as possible for a child so that the child feels at ease, rather than guilty, hurt, and distressed.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you work on access exchanges.

What to Do

  • Keep transitions calm and neutral. Exchange pleasantries with the other parent, if possible. If this is not possible, then make the exchange quick and efficient. Keep your child comfortable and not feeling like they are the cause of any argument. Children are perceptive and pick up on their parents’ moods and feelings.
  • Have everything ready for the exchange. If the child brought items to your home of which there are only one, or if the child brought something to your home that is needed for the school week, make sure these are packed and ready to go. Forgetting these items can cause strain or unnecessary conflict between parents and also lead to a parent airing their frustrations out in front of the child.
  • Have the child clean and fed. This comes up frequently as a parenting concern, so it is important that parents are mindful of this. Returning a child to the other parent hungry or dirty adds to the other parents’ responsibilities. Repeatedly doing this can lead the other parent wanting to revisit parenting terms or access time itself.
  • Follow the access schedule, but be flexible. Circumstances at work, in our personal lives, or with activities can prompt a need to change pick-up or drop off, so it’s important to be reasonable and accommodating. If you foresee running late for pick-up or drop-off, let the other parent know as far in advance as possible. If something will impede on your scheduled time, tell the other parent so that they are aware and so that the child can also be told in an appropriate way. This also allows alternate arrangements to be made in a more stress-free manner compared to making them one hour before the scheduled pick-up or drop-off.

What Not to Do

  • Do not arrive at your pick-ups or drop-offs late. This can leave your child feeling a range of emotions. It can also result in making the other parent anxious or upset and can then lead to an unpleasant exchange for which the child is present. A call or a text is important, and should not be one that comes after the pick-up time.
  • Do not use exchanges as a time to vent to your child about the other parent. It is important to be respectful of the other parent. Think about how you would want the other parent to speak about you to your child.
  • Do not make your child the messenger. Doing this pulls them into conflict and exposes them to adult issues. Communicate with the other parent about updates or concerns regarding parenting politely in person, if possible. If not, use emails or texts, or a logbook.
  • Do not miss access time with your children. If you have a schedule, follow it. The impact of not seeing or spending time with your child can have a negative impact on them. It can also cause issues with the parent, who may have planned to use the time you are meant to be with the child to run errands or go to work.

Ensuring transitions run as smoothly as possible will help reduce the stress on you and your children and make pick-ups and drop-offs more of a routine than a conflict.

This blog post was written by Olivia Koneval, a member of the Family Law team.  She can be reached at 613-369-0367 or at

More Resources

Blog |
Employment, Labour, and Human Rights, Commercial Litigation


Posted May 23, 2023

Both in my commercial and employment litigation practice, I encounter Ontario business owners faced with serious charges laid against them under the Provincial Offences Act[...]
Blog |
Family Law


Posted May 18, 2023

The recent Supreme Court of Canada decision in Anderson v. Anderson, 2023 SCC 13, provides guidance on domestic contracts and the enforceability of an informal[...]
Blog |
Environmental Law


Posted May 16, 2023

When many people think of contaminated sites, they think of the usual suspects such as industrial properties and gas stations.  They may not think of[...]
Blog |
Business Law


Posted May 9, 2023

Often business owners reach a point where they are considering the sale of their business either through the sale of shares or the sale of[...]
Blog |
Family Law


Posted May 2, 2023

Overview of Tort Claims in Family Matters Tort claims can be made in family law matters, so as to prevent a multiplicity of proceedings and[...]
Blog |
Employment, Labour, and Human Rights


Posted April 25, 2023

In a case that recently was decided from the Court of Appeal of Ontario called Celestini v Shoplogix Inc., 2023 ONCA 131, the Court had[...]

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.