The best parenting plan is one that addresses the unique needs of the children and the parents. Of course, there are typical formats that are commonly accepted, these include alternating weekdays with weekends, rotating blocks of days, or perhaps it is one that focuses on summers and holidays if the parents do not live near each other.
One format that has become popular in recent years is the “bird nest” or “nesting” approach. This coparenting arrangement eschews shuttling the children between the two residences in favor or the parents switching in and out of the family home at their prearranged time. This arrangement can also include a second apartment where the parents stay when they are not with the kids.
The advantages of nesting
Child psychology experts believe that there are distinct advantages to this approach:
It maintains parental bonds: Having both mom and dad (alternately) in the home reinforces the bond between parents and children during a time of change.
Less disruption: It keeps the kids in their usual routine.
Convenience: It can be easier to move parents than to move three or more kids.
Less cost: A modest apartment is less expensive than maintaining a second set of accommodations for three or more kids.
The disadvantages of nesting
This approach may not be for everyone for such reasons as:
You are sharing your space with your ex: Some marriages do not work because of basic roommate issues, which may carry over if you are still sharing a bathroom, kitchen and general living space.
Mixed messages: Some experts believe that this approach works best only if it is transitional while the kids gets used to the idea of the divorce. In the kids’ eyes, longer arrangements of this nature can mean there is a possibility of reconciliation.
Pick a plan and then adjust
The needs of the children and parents will likely change over time. It important that a transitional plan is a good start, which can then be modified as the parents figure what needs to be added or taken out of the written agreement. Experienced family law attorneys can help their clients with each step of the process and can provide insight based on years of experience working with families in similar situations.