Child custody arrangements have become vastly more child-centered over the past couple of decades. It used to be that the arrangement was typically one in which the child stayed at one parent's home for most of the time while seeing the other parent every other weekend and a couple of evenings a week, or something similar. Now there are more arrangements that take the child's comfort into account, including something called the bird's nest. This is where the child stays home and it's the parents who move. Here are some things to know before deciding whether this is a good option for your family.
The Child Can Continue to See Friends
Possibly the best effect of the bird's nest is that not only does the child get to stay in familiar surroundings, but the child's life outside the home can continue as normal. The child can still see friends and participate in local events like parties—none of that "I can't go. I'm at my dad's this weekend" stuff. Of course, if the child also has friends in the neighborhood in which a non-custodial (in a traditional arrangement) parent lives, then either arrangement could work.
The Parents Need to Be on Good-Enough Terms
Parents don't have to be great friends in order to use the bird's nest model. However, they have to be on good-enough terms. The parents should be civil, be able to talk to each other, and be in the same room without spiraling down into fights and passive-aggressive remarks. If parents absolutely cannot stand to be near each other, the bird's nest isn't going to work. Sometimes divorcing parents need to stay away from each other, and a shuttle schedule where one parent can just stay in the car may be a saner option.
It Does Mean Two Housing Payments for Both Parents
If the child stays in one home, and the parents are the ones who move, then the parents have to ensure that rent or mortgage payments stay current in two places. Both would split the payments for the home where the child lives while paying their own rent or mortgage for their own homes or apartments—and that includes utility bills and more. For parents who can afford that arrangement, the bird's nest plan could be a very good option. However, parents who are on tight budgets may want to look at other arrangements first.
If you and your spouse can afford the housing arrangements and are on good-enough terms with each other to act civilly while switching weeks (or whatever length of time is determined) at the child's home, a bird's nest arrangement could be just what you need. Contact local child custody law services to learn more.