One sunny morning, you pad down the stairs to find your daughter eating happily with her father. It’s a picture-perfect family moment, except you and your husband have been divorced for more than a year.
You’re looking at divorce in the new age, where ex-spouses choose to live in harmonyfor the children’s sake. One of the emerging trendsis Bird’s Nesting, a type of custody where parents take turns staying in one family home with their children. While one parent stays with the kids, the other is off living in their single pad and goes only to the family home when it’s their “shift”.
Many people would consider this lifestyle unconventional – and who better to practice it than the beautiful, unconventional people of New York?Much to anyone’s surprise, the state has seen lower divorce rates over the last few decades.The 2014 American CommunitySurvey reveals that 11% of Americans are divorced nationwide, while the numbers reach a humble 8.7% in New York City.
They’re also more likely to have an amicable split. Some divorced couples stay close, living in the same apartment buildings, in the same neighborhood, and even the same houses to keep the kids happy. For these exes, Bird’s Nesting custody sounds like the next best thing to conventional divorce.
The Unmarried Family
The concept of Bird’s Nesting centers on the child’s needs. Court decisions in all types of custody are based on the “child’s best interests”, too, Divorce lawyers in Long Island explain, but Nesting works quite differently.
In a traditional setup, one divorced parent is likely to play fewer roles in the child’s life than the other. This affectsthe child’s physical, social, mental and emotional upbringing.
The idea of nesting is to minimize these disruptions and provide stability while the kids adjust to their parents’ split. Their daily routines stay more or less the same; they get to spend quality with each parent equally; they get to keep the same friends and go the same school.
Although virtually apart, couples are “partners” in the child’s upbringing, playing the parent’s role in the absence of the other. The advantage comes from the consistency of the “shifts”. The child doesn’t feel they’re missing out on either parent, while each parent gets their share of quality time.
For those who are not considering it as a lifetime setup, it’s a good avenue to transition to a fully divorced life. If, for one reason or another, couples can’t sell the family house, they can choose to “bird-nest”. Some get creative and crash at a friend’s place during their “day-offs” to avoid costs of renting out a studio apartment in addition to the cost of the family home.
Finally, divorce experts say nesting can save a marriage. If it’s during a trial separation and both parents are proactively working on their relationship, the arrangement can be conducive for marital reconciliation.
The Big “Only If”
The couple’s relationship, ultimately, draws the line between an effective unmarried family and a custody train wreck. Bird’s Nesting is doable ONLY IF the parents see eye to eye, can address each other respectfully, or willing to try, at least. Or else, the option is not on the table. Parents can feel like they have no home and end up fighting for the same reasons that ended the marriage to begin with.
Divorce experts say while bird’s nesting offers the advantage of space, what matters is the relationship they have with their parents. Above all, a healthy relationship is the only way we can say any family – married or unmarried – is truly happy.