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Would you consider this unorthodox custody arrangement?

Most people are becoming more comfortable with remaining amicable with an ex-spouse in order to continue parenting their children together. Joint custody agreements that keep both parents as involved in the children's lives as possible are becoming the norm.

Co-parenting arrangements these days often include spending holidays, birthdays and other important events in the children's lives as a family despite the divorce. However, one arrangement may still seem quite unorthodox to many people, and you may be one of them.

Introducing "bird nesting"

If you haven't heard of this custody arrangement, you probably aren't alone. It remains somewhat unorthodox, even though it works for some people. In fact, depending on your circumstances, it may work for you and your family. In this arrangement, the children stay in the marital home -- the nest -- and the parents rotate in and out on a schedule.

You may spend one week with the children and then move out so that your ex-spouse can spend the following week with them. The length of time can vary, depending on the family, but the aim is to provide both parents with ample time with the children while allowing the children the luxury of not having to go back and forth between parent homes.

In many ways, this benefits the children since they can retain their lifestyle as they become accustomed to only having one parent with them at a time. Remaining in the same home with their things and friends nearby provides them with some measure of security in an otherwise difficult time. This may seem attractive to you, but before you take that step, consider all sides of the issue. In fact, you may need to establish some ground rules before beginning this arrangement.

What does it take to make this work?

One glaring issue when it comes to bird nesting is where the parents will live when they are not with the children. Not only will they need to maintain the marital home, including paying all of the associated bills, but also another residence as well. If you have the money, this may not be a consideration. If you don't have the money, but you both want this to work, you may come up with some sort of creative solution that works for each of you.

Then there is the fact that the two of you will need to maintain a friendly relationship. You will still be in each other's space and have a high level of interaction. It may be a good idea to examine why you are divorcing. If you are able to get past those issues and remain friendly as parents, this arrangement may work for you. You don't have to sustain this arrangement long-term unless you want to. Many people use bird nesting as a temporary measure in order to help the children come to terms with the divorce before moving forward.

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Courtney ∙ Clark Law, P.C.
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Belleville, IL 62220

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