At first glance, it seems like an unusual custody arrangement. Every two weeks, Sandra packs a small suitcase, kisses her young son and daughter goodbye, and moves out of her Bronx home for three days while her former husband, Joe, moves in. After those three days are up, Joe drives home to Queens and Sandra returns.
In this scenario, the parents, not the children, are the ones going back and forth between homes. It’s a phenomenon known as “bird’s nest” custody and works best when the parents live relatively close to one another, so the parent currently staying with the children can still commute to work or access necessary resources.
Bird’s nest parenting appears to originate from a 2000 West Virginia divorce case, Lamont vs. Lamont. The parents, Michael and Sheila Lamont, had joint legal custody of their two children and agreed to a parenting arrangement that called for the children to remain in the family home while Mr. and Mrs. Lamont moved out according to an agreed-upon schedule.
More courts and families are embracing this semi-permanent arrangement as less disruptive to the children, who can stay in one familiar home, go to the same school, and see their friends as much as they did before the divorce. They can also maintain a strong and meaningful relationship with both parents even though the entire family is no longer under the same roof.
There are advantages to the parents as well. There is no need to purchase two sets of everything for both homes, and the “visiting” parent is not required to rent or buy a home with extra bedrooms. Although the shuttling back and forth is technically an inconvenience and can interfere with new relationships (the resident parent’s new partner or spouse would have to move out temporarily too), bird’s nest parents accept these challenges as worthwhile given the advantages to their children.
The arrangement will generally come to an end when the youngest child comes of age. Then the home is typically sold and the proceeds divided in accordance with the divorce agreement, or one parent will opt to buy out the other’s share.
Since the monumental 2000 case, bird’s nest parenting has become more widespread, with supporters applauding how it emphasizes the welfare of the children. It has even been depicted in two TV shows: The Affair and Transparent.
If you believe that a bird’s nest parenting arrangement is feasible for your divorce situation then, your New York divorce attorney can help you devise the best solution for you and the children and incorporate into the custody agreement. Although this form of co-parenting may not be appropriate for all situations, (for example, if you and your spouse intend to live in different cities) when it does work the benefits for the children can be tremendous. Contact the law office of Jayson Lutzky to set up a free in-person initial divorce consultation. Mr. Lutzky also handles family law matters and can be reached at 718-329-9500. Visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.