In addition to shopping for gifts and planning holiday parties, you might be one of many Ohio parents who are also preparing for divorce proceedings before the new year. Your children’s well-being will no doubt be a central focus. One of the issues you must resolve is child custody, including physical custody (where they will live) and legal custody (decision-making authority).

If you’re not opposed to thinking outside the box or trying a unique arrangement, and you get along well (or well enough) with your ex, you might consider incorporating a bird nesting arrangement into your new child custody plan. One of the benefits of this type of agreement is that you won’t have to sell your house after finalizing your divorce because your children will live in it full-time, and you and your ex will take turns living with them.

Here’s how bird nest child custody works

In a bird nest custody plan, your kids keep living in the home you all shared during your marriage. You and your ex will create a rotating schedule and take turns living with the kids. The schedule is up to you. You might want to switch off every week or every three to six weeks, whichever best fits your family’s needs.

Where do you live when it’s not your turn?

When it’s not your turn for custody, you, of course, will need to have a secondary residence. To save money, you and your ex can agree to rent a small studio apartment. If that option doesn’t appeal to you, you can each secure your own living arrangements. Some parents rent a room from extended family members or a friend, while others stay at a hotel or rent a home.

Benefits of bird nesting after divorce

There are several benefits associated with bird nest custody. The following list highlights some of them:

  • It reduces disruption in your children’s lives because they do not have to move to a new home or go to a new school.
  • Bird nesting helps retain a sense of normalcy, structure and routine in a child’s life during a tumultuous time.
  • Children can spend ample time with both parents, which most family court judges agree helps them alleviate stress as they cope with divorce.
  • All the children’s belongings (i.e., school papers, sports equipment, toys, clothing, etc.) are in one home, rather than transported back and forth between two households.
  • When all the things on this list are occurring simultaneously, children may find it less taxing to come to terms with the changes their parents’ divorce has triggered in their daily life.

What if a bird nest child custody plan doesn’t work?

It’s a good idea to set a deadline for determining if a bird nest child custody plan is working for your family. Even before the deadline arises, if you believe another custody option would be better, you can file a motion to request modification of your existing court order. The Ohio judge who oversees your case will review the motion and determine if a change is in your children’s best interest.