In California, and throughout the country, it is legal for a set of parents to retain ownership of their marital home for the sake of their children when they themselves have decided to divorce. This is especially relevant in families where children have lived in the family home for many years, as opposed to divorcing when your kids are infants or toddlers. With a bird nest child custody arrangement, you and your ex would agree to take turns living in your marital home with the kids.
This, of course, means you’d need a secondary residence to stay in when it’s not your turn to live with the kids. Some parents simply rent a studio apartment or spare room in a friend’s or relative’s home. There are also several problems that may arise when implementing a bird nest custody plan. It’s best to learn more about these issues ahead of time so that you can determine how to avoid them.
Agree what will stay in the home, then leave it alone
Sharing a home after divorce can be challenging; however, it can also be beneficial for children because it helps them maintain a sense of normalcy and routine in their daily lives and minimizes some of the disruption child custody proceedings can cause. One of the potential problems that can arise in a bird nest arrangement is spontaneous removal of objects from the home.
To avoid disputes, it’s best to determine ahead of time what furniture, artwork, kitchen supplies and other items will stay in the home where your kids will live full time. Agree (in writing, preferably) that neither parent will remove anything from the property without the other parent’s approval.
Create boundaries and ground rules regarding new romantic partners
Since you and your ex will take turns living in the home you shared during marriage, things can get a bit awkward if one of you enters a new relationship or remarries. You might want to restrict dating to locations outside the home. However, if you’re both okay with new partners staying at the house, you can write out terms of agreement, such as designating certain rooms off limits.
You need not share private information, only info about the kids
Things will quickly go from bad to worse if you and your ex refuse to cooperate regarding sharing information with each other about your children following your divorce. If you don’t want to have to engage in conversation every time you exchange custody, you can keep each other informed by posting a white board or message board in a conspicuous location in the house. Each parent can check the board as soon as he or she arrives to see if there’s a message about the kids from the other parent.
Child custody arrangements run more smoothly without parental conflict
Even in the happiest of marriages, parents sometimes disagree. Data shows, however, that when children have constant exposure to parental conflict, they have a more difficult time coping with divorce. If you can’t be in the same room or share the family home with your ex without fighting, consider implementing a parallel parenting plan alongside your bird nest arrangement.
Parallel parenting means that you limit interaction with your ex to text messaging or email only. If legal complications arise as you attempt a bird nest child custody plan, you can seek the court’s intervention to help resolve the problem.