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Bird nesting: an alternative to traditional child custody

Divorce can throw a child's life into disarray. Not only does the child have to reconcile that his or her parents are no longer in love and will no longer be married, but traditionally the child would also have to adjust to living in two different homes, one with each parent.

Parents in Franklin, Pennsylvania, naturally want to reduce the amount of stress a child feels during a divorce. Therefore, some consider a rather unique alternative to child custody: bird nesting. In a bird nesting arrangement, the child stays in the family home and it is the parents who rotate living in it. Therefore, some days one parent will live with the child in the family home and the other parent will live in a separate apartment, and then other days the parents will switch roles.

There are pros and cons to such an arrangement. One pro is that it is less disruptive on the child's life. Being able to stay in the same home he or she lived in while his or her parents were married may bring some much-needed stability into the child's life. In addition, it promotes cooperation between parents. After all, even though their marriage has ended, they are still connected through their child, and therefore will have to communicate with regards to raising their child.

However, bird nesting is not for everyone. First, both spouses must be on the same page with regards to who will do the cleaning, shopping and maintenance on the home. Rules need to be consistent. Also, it can be expensive to pay both a mortgage and rent on a separate apartment. Finally, parents will have to respect each other's privacy, even though they are sharing a living space. If a child's parents simply cannot cooperate in this manner, bird nesting may not be for them.

In the end, whatever kind of child custody arrangement is chosen must be in the child's best interests. In some unique cases, bird nesting is beneficial. For others, though, both the parents will ultimately be happier living separately, and thus will be better able to better care for their child post-divorce. There is no right answer, as every family's situation is different. But with careful, objective thought during the divorce process, parents can come to a solution that works for all involved.

Source: CNBC, "This hot Hollywood divorce trend may not be for you," Lorie Konish, April 16, 2018

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