In most cases, California parents generally have a right to spend time with their children even after they get a divorce. In addition to determining the amount of time that a child spends with each parent, the custody agreement should explain where, how and when the exchange will take place.

Most exchanges occur peacefully, but persistent hostility between parents or new disputes triggered by unpaid child support or differing opinions about child rearing can make the hand-off of a child a violent episode. One severe example of an exchange gone wrong occurred when the boyfriend of an ex-wife shot and killed the father in front of his children. In another case, a young father thought he could win custody of his child by having a friend shoot him. Unfortunately, the gunshot would killed him.

Less extreme problems like yelling, pushing or hitting happen between estranged parents without making headlines. Sometimes law enforcement needs to be called to address an altercation, but only a family court can address the underlying custody dispute. Police might document the incident, which could provide evidence when the court looks at the case.

A parent who desires a child custody modification because of a change in work schedule or a need to relocate could ask an attorney to evaluate the likelihood of a court approving the change. An attorney might guide negotiations between the parents so that they consider the best interests of their children before preparing a plan for court review. The reasons for the alteration could be documented by the attorney when advocating in court.