Faupel Musser Love, P.C.

Could 'bird's nest custody' work for you?

When Michigan parents divorce, they must make some hard choices about the custody of their children and where all parties will live once the split is final. The family law courts tend to prefer co-parenting arrangements unless there are mitigating factors that would make this untenable.

But not all kids adapt well to a life of shuttling between their parents' homes. This is especially true for kids with special needs. Those on the autism spectrum typically struggle with transitions anyway, and having to switch homes on a regular basis may prove too difficult for them, especially when they are young.

It may also be cost-prohibitive to set up another handicap-access home for a child living with physical challenges. In these — and other — cases, Ann Arbor parents might want to consider bird's nest parenting.

How does it work?

The children remain in the family home and the two parents cycle in and out of it according to preset schedules. This allows the kids' routines to remain static and undisrupted.

Of course, it's not a solution that will work with everyone. For one, the parents have to be able to behave civilly with one another, as by necessity, they will encounter one another regularly. It's also more likely to work when neither parent has taken up with a new partner, as that can cause ruffled feathers.

There are financial considerations, too. Depending upon the parents' other living arrangements when they don't have the kids, they could wind up jointly supporting three households — his, mine and ours. That can be cost-prohibitive for many families.

However, if you're willing to think outside of the box, bird's nest parenting might be the best custody solution for all concerned.

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