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'Bird's nest' parenting: breaking with convention

There was a time in the not too distant past when divorce was considered unconventional. Today, from Tennessee, perhaps to Timbuktu, break ups of spouses are as much the convention as is marriage. Many experts suggest half of all marriages end in divorce.

There are still elements of divorce that can present us all with challenges. This is surely the case when the dissolution of the couple's married status involves children. Property division issues may easily be handled within the context of a financial arrangement. How to ensure that the best interests of the children are met requires more sensitivity to the needs of the younger generation.

Never daunted, ingenious and caring parents have come up with innovative ways to serve the best interests of the children while allowing themselves to get on with their own personal lives. Often the challenge in making the plans reality has to do with convincing the court to give its approval. This is something best left in the hands of experienced family law attorneys.

Perhaps one of the most unconventional models to come down the pike in recent years is "bird's nest" parenting. This is a joint custody arrangement, typically. Unlike more conventional custody plans, however, in which the children are ferried between the parental homes, bird nesting requires the parents to do the coming and going on a rotating basis.

Proponents of bird's nest parenting point to the benefits it provides in putting the children at the heart of everything. They observe that the children maintain the order of their lives and relationships with friends, which can only support their well-being.

The question that deserves to be asked is how long the parents can sustain such a model. Considering that it calls for the possible maintenance of three separate homes, money could be a major impediment. Even if that isn't an issue, the commitment to the bird's nest model long-term could be detrimental to the parents moving on with their individual lives.

This leads some experts to suggest that this model of parenting in divorce may only work in the short run.

That may be OK. Plan modifications are possible. By working with skilled legal counsel, such changes can be planned for from the outset. The key is in going into the situation with eyes wide open.

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Lisa Collins Werner Family Law & Mediation Compassion. Experience. Results

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