When parents with minor children divorce or end their relationship, child custody can be a major issue. It is well-settled public policy that, absent unusual circumstances, children should have a close relationship with both parents. To encourage parental relationships the family courts often order split custody where each parent has physical custody of the child during specific periods. One form of custody some parents decide on is “birdnesting custody.”
Most split custody arrangements involve the child having two residences, with the child relocating from one parent’s home to the other during the intervals specified in the court order. But continual and/or frequent moves between residences can be difficult for a child. Transportation logistics may be complicated, and travel can be tedious. It can also be difficult for a child of divorce to live in two places. The child needs clothing and personal items stocked in both homes. In addition, a child must carry items such as schoolbooks, homework, electronic devices between homes. With birdnesting, the child is able to remain in the pre-divorce/separation home and the parents are the ones who take turns living with the child. When one parent is in residence, the other vacates the home.
Birdnesting is widely recognized throughout the country but rarely practiced. The parents must have an extraordinary level of mutual trust and cooperation for the arrangement to work. Some people may not want their ex-partner to have access to their home. What’s more, birdnesting becomes much less possible or practical when one or both parents have a new partner or blended family with other children. Sharing a home can also be very costly, as each parent must make living arrangements when not with the child and must also pay to maintain the pre-divorce/separation home.
For a child, there are advantages and disadvantages to birdnesting. Having only one home gives the child stability. He or she does not have to travel between homes or constantly move their belongings. One home also makes it easier for the child to maintain relationships with their friends and keep up with hobbies and activities.
If you are considering whether or not birdnesting is the right custody decision for you and your family, speaking with an experienced divorce attorney can help you go through your options and make the choice that works best for you and your loved ones.
The Lindsey Law Firm, P.C. in Tulsa, Oklahoma practices family law throughout the greater Tulsa metropolitan area. If you have a child custody issue, feel free to contact us online or call 918-587-0097 for an initial consultation.