The way that people divorce has radically changed in the past few decades, especially for those with children. Gone are the days when a mother automatically received primary custody of the children and the father received one night a week and every other weekend for visitation.
These days, many couples want to continue to share parenting responsibilities despite the divorce. They each want to remain as involved as possible and recognize that their children need both of them to thrive. This has led to more couples sharing custody than ever before. In fact, this concept continues to evolve, and you may decide that a relatively new, and some would say radical, way to share custody would work best for your children -- bird nesting.
This type of shared custody allows the children to remain in the family home while the parents move in and out of it. This requires you and the other parent to be able to maintain an amicable relationship, to afford the cost of the home and to agree to share household expenses and rules. This plan also relies on both of you remaining in the area and maintaining a residence when you are not living with the children.
If you and the other parent agree to these terms, this may be the custody arrangement for you. However, before making a final decision, you may want to consider the pros and cons.
Obviously, the children come out the clear winners in this arrangement. They don't have to worry about shuttling their things between two different households. They can maintain their pre-divorce routines and have some sense of security. They can remain in the same schools and maintain their friendships.
Parents have the satisfaction of knowing that their children are safe, secure and have a roof over their heads. Child support often becomes a non-issue since nothing changes for the children. Bird nesting also helps each parent maintain a strong relationship with the children. This custody arrangement also helps parents remain on the same page where the children are concerned.
If you don't have a friendly, or at least civil, relationship with your former spouse, this arrangement may not work. You will need to be in constant communication with your ex in order to make this work. If that isn't possible, then bird nesting probably won't work in your situation. There are often few clear boundaries in this arrangement, which many people need in the early weeks and months following a divorce.
Even so, you and the other parent will need to set some boundaries in your personal lives in order to make this work, and if you can't, this may not be the right choice for shared custody. It can also be expensive since you will need to maintain the marital household and have another place to live when not with the children.
If you decide that the pros outweigh the cons, then bird nesting may work for you. You may want to be sure to put all of the rules of your arrangement in writing in order to make sure that you both follow the rules. In addition, you will need to show the court that this arrangement suits the best interests of your children. Others in your situation sought out experienced help to give this way of life the best chance possible, and you may benefit from doing so as well.