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How to determine if bird nesting is the right choice for you

The term "bird nest" may take on a whole new definition if you're one of many recently divorced dads in New York. A year or so ago, if your children would have asked you to help them build a bird nest, you may have logically assumed they were talking about a school project or a new ornithology hobby. If the other parent poses the same question to you in an attempt to achieve an amicable child custody agreement in divorce, it means something altogether different.

When a divorced couple chooses bird nesting as their custody arrangement plan, the children remain living in the same home they shared with their parents when they were married. The parents take turns living with their kids. This, of course, means that when it's not your turn, you need to have somewhere else to live.

What are the pros and cons of bird nesting?

To determine whether this type of arrangement would be best for your family, it may help to weigh the possible benefits of co-parenting this way against the potential negative consequences. The following list includes a few of each:

  • Potential financial strain: Whether you still owe a mortgage on your home or not, you will still need to invest in separate living accommodations when you're not on the schedule to live with your children. If you do still owe money on the house your kids will live in full-time, you may wind up facing some serious financial challenges.
  • Works well if things are cool between you and your former spouse: If you can barely exist in the same room as your former spouse without arguing, bird nesting may not be the best choice for you. However, if you're both able and willing to compromise and cooperate, then a bird nesting situation may be right up your alley.
  • Kids enjoy stability: Bird nesting is a way for you to keep your children's best interests at heart in divorce. Children typically fare best when parents make an effort to avoid as much disruption as possible in their daily lives. If you allow them to keep living where they've always lived, they may be able to more easily adapt to a post-divorce lifestyle. 
  • Perhaps no need for child support: Since your household expenses and mortgage payments will likely remain the same if your children stay living in the house you all shared together during marriage, there may not be a need for you to pay child support.

You may not worry as much about your kids if you know they're growing up in the same house they shared with you and your former spouse. Bird nesting can also cut down on the amount of running you might have to do if your children are switching houses every other week, not to mention how much easier it would be to keep track of school supplies, sports stuff and all the other items that generally come with raising kids.

If you and your children's other parent need help documenting your agreement, run into a disagreement regarding a potential bird nesting situation, or already have an existing court-ordered plan and need to seek modification of it, you may want to seek experienced guidance when heading to court.

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