Adults and children alike are compelled to adjust to major changes during a divorce or parental breakup. Parents must find a way to share their rights and responsibilities as co-parents. Most shared custody arrangements in Texas are straightforward. The parents or the courts set a specific breakdown of parenting time, and the adults also share the authority to make important decisions about the children. They must cooperate but will largely live separate lives.
However, some families pursue more creative custody arrangements because of their family circumstances. For example, in recent years, birdnesting has become a more popular but still relatively uncommon custody arrangement. Why do some Texas parents decide to create a birdnesting custody arrangement?
Birdnesting preserves stability
In a standard co-parenting arrangement, the children experience a lot of upheaval. They have to regularly travel between their parents and may even need to move to totally new neighborhoods. In a birdnesting custody arrangement, the children do not need to move. Instead, the parents will each maintain an outside residence while the children continue living in the family home. Each parent will stay with the children during their parenting time and live elsewhere when the other parent has time with the children.
The most obvious benefit of this arrangement is that the children don’t have to adjust to living in two separate houses or the constant need to travel back and forth between the parents. They can preserve the same schedule and lifestyle they have always known. Keeping the children in the same school district is a very valuable secondary benefit of such arrangements. With the housing market currently so competitive, it can be very difficult for adults to find affordable housing in the same district where their children currently attend school during a divorce. Changing schools can be a secondary trauma that worsens the negative impact of divorce.
Birdnesting helps ensure that the children have access to the same support network and largely live the same lives they enjoyed before their parents decided to change their relationship. Yet, there are many challenges that arise during birdnesting custody arrangements. Parents may need a plan for handling disagreements and a contract about what will happen with the house when the children eventually leave.