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Nesting as a child custody alternative

Maryland fans of the TV show "Splitting Up Together" may have already been introduced to the concept of bird nesting. This happens when a couple gets a divorce but the children remain in the home while the parents take turns living there. The actor Josh Lucas, who split up with the mother of his 5-year-old son, has also discussed the success of the arrangement.

This approach has both advantages and disadvantages. If the couple is waiting for a lease to end or for the value of their home to rise before they sell it, it can be beneficial. It also prevents children from having to go through immediate upheaval. However, it is important that children understand their parents will not be getting back together. Nesting may work best when it is short term, and it requires a great deal of cooperation from both parents.

Nesting usually works well when a couple is able to maintain separate residences in addition to the home. For one couple, additional strain came from the fact that one of them had only a sofa at a sibling's house to sleep on when she was not in the home. Furthermore, their schedules did not match up, and one spouse often left housework to be done.

Nesting can also be costly. However, there are other child custody arrangements that parents may consult an attorney about to help their children better adjust. Parents might worry about how moving between households will disrupt their children's lives, but studies have shown that the advantages of being able to build a relationship with both parents outweigh this disruption. Parents may want to have the child spend alternating weeks with each of them, or the child might move back and forth during the week. Parents could also maintain homes near one another so that the child can easily go between them.

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