The Visitation Exchange- when Court Order meets WWF Wrestling

The parties have attended their RI Family Court Hearing and a visitation Schedule is set by agreement of the parties with help from the judge. The parties also agree to joint custody and child support. Everything is now on paper in a court order signed by the Judge and Entered by the Clerk as a binding order of the Providence Family Court. In some cases, the order entered as a result of Family Court child Visitation Mediation.

Third party shenanigans

For good reason, Most Rhode Island Family Court Attorneys advise their clients not to get third parties involved in these visitation exchanges. But now a schedule has been set and all that is necessary is to exchange the minor child or children at the designated time and place set forth in the Court Decree. Easy enough? How could this be a problem?

Wrestle-mania tag team

In most cases, probably over 99 percent, these visit exchanges are not a problem. In a very small percentage of cases these custodial exchanges become Family Court meets the World Wrestling Federation. Sometimes it is “tag team wrestling.” It is only a simple exchange of a child and everyone knows that it is detrimental for the parties children to see any arguing, fighting, violence or abuse  between the parents. Sadly, children are the real victims of these feuds.

However, in high conflict divorces or  Child Custody cases sometimes these exchanges can be a real problem. Father has visitation every other weekend and Thursday overnight. The Parties don’t like each other and are feuding about everything in and out of Court. But now everything is ok -Everything is settled right? Right?? Its just a simple pickup and drop off of a child!

NO! Wrong!


Despite the parties being advised by their RI divorce lawyers or Family Law Attorneys not to get third parties involved, Father decides that mother may make a false allegation  or believes that it somehow may be a good idea to bring his new girlfriend to the  visit exchange. Mother bring the child’s grandmother to the mutually agreed upon visitation exchange as moral support. Both parties start with the intention of a civil, peaceful exchange of the child.

But someone says something or does something and then Family Court meets the WWF!

In this Corner we have mother of the child who decides to bring the child’s grandmother as support. The grandmother hates the child’s father with a passion.

In the other Corner, we have Father and his  Beautiful New Girlfriend  who is concerned her new boyfriend may get back with his ex girlfriend who she detests. The parties meet at a neutral Mcdonald’s meeting spot exactly 1/2 of the distance from father and mother’s homes. Since neither parties attorney wanted the other to have home field advantage, the parties agreed to meet at a neutral  central location in public. Mother is waiting with the  grandmother with the child in the car seat in the back. Father is late and mother texts father threatening to leave and dad says he is stuck in traffic. Dad gets to the visit 24 minutes late.

Things go well enough to start. Dad walks over to the car to get the child and ask when the last time the child was fed.  Grandma just cant resist and chimes back “why do you care since you don’t support your child”


Father is angry and yells back “If she wasn’t such a SL– hooking up with my friend Jeff I would Pay” Mother flies out of the car and starts yelling “your a $%^&(*()  dead beat dad loser father.” Ex girlfriend flies out of the car in a fit of rage yelling. “I have him now and your a F$%& Wh—-.” Dad reaches in to start to get the child. Mother starts to drive away and almost runs over the fathers foot. The child is crying and yelling “dadda dadda” The child’s toy falls into the parking lot. Father calls the police. Both sides tell different versions of the story.  Both claim that the other side incited the feud. Mother runs into Court to get a restraining order.

(This exchange is based on a compilation of many similar exchanges I have seen in 17 years as a RI Divorce Lawyer. It is not based on any particular incident or any particular case.)