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'Birds nesting' -- a viable alternative for child custody?

In general, it is assumed that when a couple with children in Phoenix divorces, each parent will live apart, leaving the child with two homes. For some, this means one parent has primary custody and the child will live with them. The other parent has visitation rights, in which the child will spend some time in that parent's home, for example, every other weekend. For others, this means that the parents share joint custody and the child resides approximately half of his or her time in one parent's home or the other's.

However, these are not the only arrangements for child custody. One alternative is known as "birds-nesting." In this arrangement, the child will remain in the family home and it is the parents who will take turns residing with the child. For example, each parent may have his or her own apartment to return to when it is not his or her turn to live with the child in the family home. This means that it is the parents who shuttle back and forth, instead of the child. The purpose of such an arrangement is to provide the child with more stability and less stress.

One family who chose birds-nesting for child custody did so in hopes of not disturbing their children's daily routines and thus reducing the amount of uncertainty that a child experiences when his or her parents divorce. In general, however, state statutes do not necessarily address birds-nesting as a child custody alternative. Instead, it is something that is agreed upon by the parents out of court. Couples considering birds-nesting must determine whether they are both on board with the decision, whether it is possible for each of them to arrange for a place to live when they are not at the family home and whether they can agree on how the family home will be maintained.

While not every divorcing couple with children will benefit from birds-nesting, it still may be a viable option for some who feel that traditional child custody arrangements are just not a good fit for them. By choosing birds-nesting, some parents find that the arrangement benefits not just the child, but benefits them as well.

Source: The New York Times, "After Divorce, Giving Our Kids Custody of the Home," Beth Behrendt, May 30, 2017

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