Some parents in New Jersey who are getting a divorce might consider a custody arrangement called “birdnesting” or “nesting.” This arrangement involves the children remaining in the family home while their parents rotate in and out. The parents maintain another place they live in when they are not staying with their children. Usually, this is a small apartment.
Experts say there are advantages and disadvantages to this schedule. Most recommend that it go on for no longer than a few months. Otherwise, over time, children may begin to believe there is a chance that their parents will reconcile. Parents also need to have a very amicable relationship for the arrangement to work, but even then, the relationship can become strained. Conflict may erupt over even small matters when they are forced to share living spaces even if it is not at the same time. However, the advantage is that it can give children a sense of stability during the upheaval of divorce.
Parents can do other things to help their children adjust to a divorce whether they choose nesting. Talking honestly with children about the divorce; maintaining consistency between households; and keeping children in the same school, if possible, can also be helpful. Children should also be encouraged to maintain relationships with extended family members. Parents should avoid open conflict or the silent treatment in front of children.
Parents might share both legal and physical child custody, or they may share one but not the other. The former allows both parents to participate in decisions about issues like the child’s religion, medical care and schooling. There are circumstances in which one parent might want to limit the other parent’s access to the child, and the court may agree. If the other parent has a history of domestic abuse or addiction, he or she may get supervised visitation or no visitation rights at all.