Keith B. Schulefand, Esq.
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The bird nest parenting plan

Parenting plans can be as unique as the family involved. Often it reflects the needs of the children while ideally balancing the schedules of the parents. Traditionally speaking, weekly arrangements can be broken down by alternating blocks of days, a weekday at one home and weekends at the other, or perhaps there are holidays and several weeks in the summer if the parents no longer live near each other.

One variation that has recently gotten a lot of attention in the media is the "nesting" or the "bird nest" approach. This coparenting arrangement keeps the children in the family home while the parents rotate in and out for their agreed upon parenting time. There may also be a second home or apartment that they also share when they are not with the kids. This premise has even been the theme of Splitting Up Together, which is a TV show that places in the off-duty parent in an apartment over the garage.

 

The advantages of this approach

Child psychology experts believe there are some distinct advantages to this novel approach:

  • Less disruption: Keeping the children in their home minimizes the disruption to their routines.
  • It can help with the transition: Having each parent in the family home can help keep the family bond intact while obviously accommodating the change.
  • Lower cost: As the TV show illustrates, the second residence can be more modest because it need not accommodate the kids.

The disadvantages to this approach

There are also reasons why this approach is not for everyone.

Too close for comfort: Couples divorce for a reason, and forcing them to still share a living space may simply cause too much stress.

Mixed signals: Some believe that this should be a transitional plan because the parents want to avoid the appearance of still living together, thus perhaps in the kids' eyes a potential for reconciliation. Some cap this approach at three to six months.

Picking the plan that works for your family

The key to successful coparenting is draft a plan that is in the best interests of the children while also being workable for the parents. It is best to discuss options with a family law attorney who can provide insight during the divorce process. Parents can also modify the plan to complete the transition or adjust it to better address the family's needs.

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