If you owned a home during your marriage, you already know that you will have to figure out what to do with it. Will you keep it, taking on the mortgage payments, taxes and upkeep by yourself? Is your ex hoping to stay? Maybe you plan to sell the house and split the profits. Neither of you might have considered birdnesting, a relatively new child custody arrangement.
After their parents' divorce, most kids travel back and forth between mom and dad's houses. Birdnesting posits that Florida parents should let their children stay in the marital home with each parent rotating in and out according to their custody plan.
Is birdnesting really a thing?
Although not widely utilized, birdnesting is a form of co-parenting. The premise is simple -- instead of selling the family home, parents maintain ownership and let their children remain living there. Parents then take turns rotating in and out of the house. They can choose to maintain a single separate residence which they alternate living in, or they can both maintain their own separate living arrangements.
Experts caution this arrangement is not ideal for everyone. Since you and your ex would be sharing the same home with your children -- albeit at different times -- you will not have the same amount of privacy as in a typical custody arrangement. There is also the added cost of maintaining up to three separate residences.
The benefits of keeping the kids home
Research indicates that children suffer more emotional trauma during a divorce than their parents do. Birdnesting emphasizes continuity through an otherwise difficult period. Kids may fare better if they can stay in a home they are familiar with and maintain their routines with minimal changes. Demonstrating that you and your ex can still be amicable can also help their long-term wellbeing.
This arrangement also gives you more time to figure out what to do with the house. If the current housing market is not too hot, you can wait to put it on the market and in the meantime, your kids will continue to enjoy living there.
Is it a permanent solution?
Birdnesting has short-term benefits for both you and your kids, but it may not a sustainable arrangement. However, advocates of this type of co-parenting arrangement still believe that those short-term benefits make it worth implementing.
Child custody is not a one-size-fits-all issue, and Florida family law allows for many different approaches. Before making any decision regarding child custody, you and your ex should carefully consider what is in your children's best interests. When you believe you have created the best possible custody agreement, refer back to those interests and make sure that they are still accurately represented.