Bird's nest custody — a new co-parenting approach

Determining custody arrangements in a divorce is typically one of the most contentious issues that couples face. Many discover that thinking outside of the box yields a better solution for them.

One non-traditional solution is known as "bird's nest" custody. It takes its name from the animal kingdom, where both female and male birds share the foraging and nest-building duties for their young.

What does that mean for humans?

This child-centric approach to custody will likely not be a good fit for everyone, as it involves the parents moving in and out of the home where the children live full-time. Kids benefit from this arrangement because they don't have to shuttle between two homes when the custody arrangements switch every few days or every other week. Instead, they are ensconced in a secure and stable environment where they retain access to both co-parents.

Parents like it because it reduces the need for duplicate purchases of frequently used items, clothing and electronic essentials. But there are drawbacks, as there are with any custody arrangements after a parental split.

Why it might not work

It can be costly, as it may mean the parents are supporting three homes — one for each former spouse and the children's home. If the kids' home was the former family home, that also means that it's one fewer asset to be liquidated in the divorce.

Also, if either parent has moved on to a new relationship, it could become very uncomfortable moving new partners in and out of the bird's nest home. Bird's nest custody may be better for couples who have not committed to other relationships.

How to tell if it will work for you

Do you and your co-parent have an amicable relationship? Are you able to communicate civilly about matters concerning the children? Would you respect one another's personal boundaries in a shared living situation?

If the answer is an unequivocal "yes" to all of the above, you might be good candidates for a bird's nest parenting arrangement.

You must understand, however, that the Florida courts will never mandate such an arrangement. If you and your co-parent willingly enter into such an agreement yourselves, the court will likely approve it, but this is not a scenario where they will order such arrangements. If it is not fully voluntary, it will never pass muster with the Florida family law courts.

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