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What is bird nesting and is it worth considering?

Regular readers know we revisit matters on occasion. One of the topics that gets a lot of ink, and we think rightly so, is that of parenting and how to create plans that work for Ohio couples who have determined they have come to the end of the road of their own relationship.

They recognize they are not in sync with each other, but as parents, they can't just end all interaction. Parenting demands some engagement. But what are the options?

Differing models

Co-parenting plans enjoy a great deal of favor among many experts and courts. Behind that is the belief that serving the best interests of the child means keeping both parents active in the child's life - at least through their minor years.

However, as we have noted in one previous post, it's not always possible for ex-spouses to maintain the level of respect needed to work in concert. In such cases, a parallel-parenting model depending on written communication and avoiding direct contact might be beneficial. In this post, we look at a model that takes steps in the other direction.

It's called "bird nesting." It entails keeping the children in the family home as opposed to having them shuttle between separate abodes. The parents do the moving, coming and going as called for by their custody agreement. Does it work? The answer seems to be that it depends.

While most experts acknowledge that there is inherent value in providing a stable home environment for the children, many warn that nesting has distinct limitations. Such as:

  • Cost factors: It is often financially difficult to maintain separate residences for each spouse and the family home. If the adults can remain cordial, they might be able to live under the same roof in separate bedrooms. Alternatively, if a second family residence is nearby, they could use that as the parental base. Those are big ifs.
  • Long-term viability: Accepting that the children may do well under a nesting scenario, it might only be sustainable for a short time - maybe a few months. The spouses could use the time to develop a separation agreement that then is used to support eventual dissolution of marriage. It might work, too, if the couple wishes to obtain only a legal separation. That again may limit nesting's application.

Obviously, couples owe it to themselves and children, if they are involved, to explore all options with experienced legal counsel. 

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