When parents get divorced, the hardest decisions they have to make are typically about their children. They may fight over custody, parenting styles, relocation decisions, and much more. Luckily, with a greater understanding of divorce’s impact on child development, experts have helped parents create more supportive and healthy conditions, and one concept that has emerged from this work is the idea of bird’s nest custody.
A bird’s nest-style custody arrangement is a distinctive approach to joint custody that offers children increased stability by allowing them to live in one location, rather than moving between parents’ separate homes. Instead, the parents move in and out of a central location, while maintaining a separate home elsewhere for those times when they don’t have custody.
How do you know if bird’s nest custody is right for your family? There are several factors you’ll need to consider, but even if you only choose this arrangement in the short-term, it may be beneficial to your children.
Do You Own Your Home?
While a bird’s nest custody arrangement can work regardless of your housing situation, one of the benefits of this setup is that, for couples that jointly own a home, it allows them to sidestep the need to sell it or for one half to buy the other out. This can be expensive and contentious, as well as time-consuming. Obviously, it’s more expensive to maintain multiple homes, especially if you choose not to split time between a shared second location when you don’t have custody, but if you have the money, it’s worth considering.
How Is Your Coparenting Relationship?
In order to successfully employ a bird’s nest-style custody arrangement, it’s important that you and your spouse be on relatively amicable terms. After all, you won’t just be sharing custody of your children; you’ll also be sharing responsibility for a living environment, which will add to the number of issues you have to deal with together.
“I always recommend that families considering a bird’s nest custody arrangement look into mediation, rather than handling their divorce through the courts,” notes Rowdy Williams, a Terre Haute child custody lawyer. Mediation is all about cooperation – just like a bird’s nest custody arrangement – whereas the courts are confrontational spaces.
How Old Are Your Children?
Typically, bird’s nest custody is a short-term arrangement. It’s also generally designed for young children who will benefit more from the stability of remaining in a familiar environment. In fact, if you have teenagers, there’s a reasonable chance that they will find having their divorced parents move in and out of a shared home to be more unsettling than comforting. Ultimately, you have to cue in to how your children are feeling, their attachment to their current home, and other relevant concerns.
In general, bird’s nest custody arrangements have grown in popularity in recent years, as couples reckon with the impact of divorce on children, but it isn’t right for everyone. Instead, you and your partner need to work with each other and your legal teams to evaluate whether such an arrangement would serve your family and be a sustainable choice given the underlying reasons for your divorce. You need to act in the best interests of your children, but your needs are relevant, too.