Parents who want to minimize the stress and disruption for their children during divorce in Massachusetts often consider adopting a strategy known as birdnesting. In this technique, the divorcing couple maintains the family home for the children and they alternate taking turns residing in the home and living elsewhere.
Is this a good idea? Professionals who work with divorcing couples see both pros and cons to birdnesting in divorce in Massachusetts. For many families, it may work well on a temporary basis, but not as a long-term strategy.
Birdnesting Provides Stability
The trauma children typically experience in divorce can be decreased somewhat by the birdnesting strategy, at least for a time. These children continue to sleep in the same room, attend the same school, and play with the same friends. Their routines can continue with little or no change. Routine can be a helpful tool as children grow and develop.
However, sooner or later, things will need to change. If parents continue to keep the family home and life for the children seems to be much the same, they may develop an expectation that the parents will reunite. When reunification never occurs, it can lead to stress and feelings of failure. Overall, birdnesting seems to work best as a transition tool. During the period when routines and sleeping arrangements remain the same, parents can use the opportunity to discuss how they will change in the future.
Birdnesting Can Demonstrate Cooperation
Parents who successfully take turns living in the home caring for their children are modeling excellent cooperation skills for their children. They show that even if people do not agree, they can still work together to accomplish a common goal.
Of course, if parents find that sharing the home leads to increased conflict, this demonstration could backfire. Parents need to be committed to their children’s welfare to make a nesting arrangement succeed.
Birdnesting Can Complicate Legal and Financial Matters
Financial issues often lead to some of the biggest disagreements in both marriage and divorce. Trying to keep up the family home together while making additional arrangements for other living spaces can impose a financial and emotional burden that many couples are unable to bear.
From a legal perspective, it can be challenging to develop the right parenting plan in a birdnesting situation, particularly if parents do not have a defined time for bringing the arrangement to a close. A divorce lawyer familiar with birdnesting techniques could help develop an appropriate plan for custody.
Child support can also be problematic. In Massachusetts, the parent without primary custody usually spends less time with the child and may be ordered to pay child support to the other. Even in joint custody situations, one parent may still need to pay support to the other. A court may need to consider detailed information about a birdnesting arrangement before making a determination on child support.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Massachusetts Divorce Attorney to Find Out How Birdnesting Could Affect Aspects of Your Divorce
Before committing to a birdnesting strategy, it might be helpful to sit down with your Massachusetts divorce lawyer to discuss the impact this technique would have on your preferred arrangements for custody, child support, property division, and other key aspects of your divorce. While the concept of allowing the kids to remain safely in their nest may sound appealing, it could set your family up for difficulties down the road. At Koiles Pratt Family Law Group, we are committed to helping you achieve your objectives in divorce. Contact us today if you want to make birdnesting a part of your strategy, we will work with you to develop a plan for success.