Is 'Bird's Nest' Custody A Good Idea?

Children are often referred to as innocent victims of divorce. However, because parents today are increasingly sensitive to the psychological trauma that divorce can produce, many are pursuing strategies to minimize the upheaval that divorce creates in their children's lives.

One strategy that is becoming more common is "bird's nest" custody (or simply "nesting"). This relatively new approach allows children to stay in a primary residence while the parents rotate in and out according to the schedule determined by their parenting plan. In other words, a mother lives somewhere else during a dad's parenting time and vice versa.

Stability And Improved Communication

On the surface, this makes good sense. Adults are better equipped than young children to cope with the instability of shuffling between homes. Theoretically, the children benefit from the type of consistency in their schedules that would have existed if the marriage had not ended.

It is important to note that what works in theory does not always work in reality. Early reports on the nesting approach are that it may be suitable in extremely low-conflict divorces, but there are a number of potential disputes and problems waiting for those who are not completely committed to the concept.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

For starters, unless the parents are willing to share the residence where they live when they are not with their children, nesting requires each parent to secure their own second residence. In that regard, it is a strategy that is limited to those with the necessary financial means to pull it off.

Since both parties will continue to share the primary residence, it is important to agree to housekeeping rules and other guidelines that both will adhere to while living there. A spouse may be able to overlook dirty dishes left in the sink when a marriage is working, but in divorce it can be a pain point that leads to larger disputes. That can quickly negate the overriding concept of minimizing stress for the children.

The nesting arrangement also becomes a problem if either divorced parent becomes involved in a relationship that leads to marriage. As such, nesting requires serious commitment to the children and personal sacrifices that many parents discover they do not wish to make.

Experienced Guidance Recommended

If there is even minimum conflict between divorced parents, a nesting strategy could be difficult to pull off. There are numerous creative options for parenting plans that serve both the children and parents involved. It's wise to confer with a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney who can review these choices with you.

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