There is a growing custody trend in divorce – one that places children at the very forefront in a new and unconventional way. Known as “birdnesting,” it is receiving attention from celebrities, television shows, and everyday divorcees alike. The big appeal is that children are not uprooted or split between two homes during and after a divorce, and many swear it has helped their children with adjustment during and after the divorce. But is this custody arrangement right for your family? The answer may rest in why you are getting a divorce in the first place.
How Birdnesting Works
In a “conventional” divorce, parents share what is known as parenting time and the child may have two separate homes – one with each parent. Birdnesting is exactly the opposite – parents are the ones who alternate living space, and in some circumstances, they may even be under the same roof for a decent amount of time. And, typically, it is the same house they owned prior to the divorce.
Of course, like other parenting time arrangements, birdnesting can come in all different hues, shapes, and sizes. Some may have a cohabitation plan in which both parents continue to live in the home with their children but have separate locations they visit to get space from one another. Others may each have their own home and then take turns living in the “family” house with the children. Still others have one parent that permanently stays at the “family” home while the other has a separate home and then comes to the home for family meals, overnight stays, holidays, and other predetermined events or circumstances.
Touted Benefits and Potential Drawbacks of Birdnesting
Families who can and have made birdnesting work claim that it has not only helped their children to feel more well-adjusted throughout the process, it has helped to maintain their family as a single unit. They are single, autonomous parents, but they are placing their children first and remembering that they have a shared life and responsibilities. Others say they have used it as a “transitional plan” to help their children adjust to the full-on divorce and it has helped make that shift with less confusion and stress.
But there are certainly some drawbacks, particularly for parents who may not get along very well. Arguments that led to divorce in the first place may continue because of the shared space, and some struggle with the sense of not really having a place they can call home. Still, for some, the drawbacks are well worth the positive benefits, and the real question becomes whether or not it could really work.
Is Birdnesting Right for Your Family?
Birdnesting should never be used as a custody arrangement if there is a history of abuse or controlling behavior. This can lead to safety issues and may do more harm than good. Save for those circumstances, most couples might be able to attempt birdnesting, but it is an arrangement that must be given a great deal of consideration. If, for example, arguments are likely to continue or escalate, any potential benefits of a shared, consistent living space may be eliminated.
If you believe that birdnesting may be something that will work for your family and are not really sure how to implement it or have any questions, a skilled and experienced DuPage County divorce attorney can help you sort out the details. Knowledgeable in many different types of divorce and post-divorce parenting arrangements, we can help you determine which one is right for you and assist in devising a plan that puts your child’s needs front and center. Get started by calling 630-932-9100 and scheduling your free initial consultation today.
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