In most divorce scenarios in which kids are involved, the divorcing couple comes up with a parenting plan that includes a schedule of when the children will be with each parent. Usually each spouse will have their own residence and the kids will move between them based on the parenting plan.
However, this approach of having the kids shuffle between the parents can cause tremendous stress for the children. Moving back and forth, sometimes at least once a week, and not really having their own central place can give them sense of displacement and it can take its toll on them emotionally. But what if there was a better way?
Bird Nesting: A Better Way?
A recent article in the New York Times discusses a different approach to parenting plans: bird nesting.
The bird nesting approach is simple. The children stay in the one home, and the parents each take turns staying at the house with the children according to their parenting plan schedule.
Generally, each parent will stay in their own apartment nearby and then move in when it is their turn to have the kids.
Benefits of Bird Nesting
There are numerous benefits to this approach, the most important being stability for the children. The most common scenario – where the children switch from one parent’s residence to the other with some frequency – creates continuing instability for the kids that can commonly lead to a sense of displacement and anxiety.
Further, letting the kids stay in the same place allows them to stay in the same school and limits the challenges of exchanging the children between parents.
In general, the bird nesting arrangement can be extremely helpful for keeping stability and minimizing stress for the children.
Although this plan is simple and intuitively effective, it hasn’t been something the courts would traditionally order. According to the Times article, nesting like this is more of a grass-roots movement rather than something that comes from the court or legislature.
Because the court doesn’t generally order nesting in divorce litigation, the best approach is to use negotiation and mediation to establish your parenting plan. Working with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to explore bird nesting as the primary parenting plan approach.