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The Divorce Attorney Journal

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    bird nestingOne of the worst things about divorcing with children is the upheaval kids experience in their lives. Shuffling from house to house, needing two of everything, missing their pets or their familiar surroundings, schedule changes – it’s a lot for anyone to manage, let alone a kid whose parents are splitting up and causing enough chaos as it is. Enter the bird nesting trend. 

    There is no such thing as the perfect divorce when kids are in the picture. The bird nesting co-parenting solution is aiming to change that reality.

    3 steps for telling the kids you’re getting a divorce >>

    The Benefits of Bird Nesting

    In bird nesting, instead of children of divorce having to go back and forth between their parents according to whatever custody arrangement has been worked out, the parents are the ones doing the moving around. Kids stay in the “nest,” the family home, and the parents move in when it’s their turn with the kids while the other parent moves out to their part-time abode. 

    There are pros and cons to bird nesting, a situation that was originally designed as a creative solution that puts the child first. It is believed to have originated in a Virginia divorce case in 2000 where the best decision seemed to be for the two young children of a divorcing couple to stay in the family home while their mother lived with them during the week and their father moved in for the weekend.

    The major benefit of bird nesting is for the children of course, who experience less upheaval and a greater sense of stability. There is no accidentally leaving their history homework or sports equipment or favorite toy at one parent’s house – everything they need is always where it should be and there is no need to have two of everything.

    Parents, the ones who initiated the divorce in the first place, are the ones who feel the inconvenience of orbiting around their children in the bird nesting situation. But it’s also more likely that the non-custodial parent sees their child a lot more often than they might otherwise, and that’s a good thing.

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    Different Types of Bird Nesting

    There are several ways to approach bird nesting:

    • Three homes: In the ideal bird nesting situation, the family home is maintained, and both parents also maintain their separate residences outside of the family home. This makes it easy to move in and out when their turn comes. This set-up, however, can be costly. It’s essentially the maintenance of three homes, and can be especially taxing on the parent who is already paying spousal support and child support.
    • Two shared homes: For couples who divorced amicably, maintaining two separate residences might be an option. The family home remains the main space for their kids, and there is a second residence that the divorced pair share and stay in when it’s their turn to be away from the kids. A pair of exes would really have to get along with each other in order to be able to maintain this sort of existence, especially if and when new partners enter the picture.
    • The kindness of friends and family: For the most tight-knit families, or those with the most generous friends, it may be possible to stay with others on the days and nights when you’re not in the bird’s nest. It can be easy to overstay your welcome with loved ones, however, though this type of set-up can work briefly immediately following a separation or divorce when one-half of a former couple is still getting on their feet.
    • Paying to stay: Of course there is always the option to pay for a motel or hotel every time you leave the bird’s nest. This naturally incurs a cost too and can really add up over time.
    • One home: In some situations, parents will seek out a brand new living arrangement for the entire family, where both parents are able to maintain separate existences on the same property, rotating in and out of the main house to spend time with the kids. The more affluent may find this a viable and convenient option.

    Bird Nesting Is for the Amicable

    Of course, continuing to share a space of any sort with a person to whom you are no longer legally married can be awkward at best. Creating a list of boundaries and rules about what is done in the home, being respectful of each other’s things and personal information, and maintaining an agreed-upon schedule and set of rules for your children are paramount if bird nesting is to work.

    There is also the question of home maintenance and chores and cleaning up and shopping for food – who is doing what when and who is responsible? Who is changing the sheets on the beds when they sleep in the main home? What are the rules regarding the presence of new significant others? There are a lot of questions to consider and answer before bird nesting can commence and proceed successfully. The bird nesting situations that work best are when parents are able to separate their marital conflicts from their co-parenting efforts and remain amicable as they discuss the needs of the kids and their household arrangements.

    Need help drafting a clear co-parenting plan? Interested in a unique custody arrangement? Contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney at Michigan Divorce Help in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your no-cost initial interview today.

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    We encourage you to see these differences for yourself and call today to speak with one of our partners or schedule a free consultation at our office.

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