Ryan Family Law, P.C.
Ryan Family Law, P.C.

Elgin, Illinois

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Is “birdnesting” after divorce the right choice for your child?

Co-parenting after divorce can be especially challenging when you have a child caught in the middle. You and your ex-spouse may struggle to determine the living arrangement that can protect your child’s growth and development.

Depending on the allocation of parental responsibilities approved by the Illinois court, the child may primarily live with one of you while the other will have a designated parenting time. However, this setup may only work for some.

Another increasingly popular option among parents who agree on shared custody is “birdnesting.” It is a strategy where your child remains in the family home while you and your ex-spouse take turns in and out of the house. Then, you must stay somewhere else when it is not your time to be with your child.

Knowing how birdnesting can be beneficial for your child can help gauge if it suits your family’s circumstances.

Birdnesting can help your child cope

Studies show that divorce tends to have a negative impact on your child’s well-being. The range of emotional and mental effects often includes social, behavioral and interpersonal problems. As they age, they are also at an increased risk of suffering from anxiety, depression and other health issues.

To mitigate potentially harmful consequences, birdnesting may be a viable option:

  • Providing stability: Your child can be in the familiar comfort of home. You do not have to uproot them from their school, neighborhood and other social circles.
  • Minimizing disruption: There is less stress without the need to keep moving between two homes. Instead of spending time packing and traveling on the road, the child can have increased quality time with you and your ex.
  • Reducing conflict: As you only interact with your ex in a limited capacity, there are fewer chances to argue about every detail. This way, the child’s exposure to inevitable tension when you cannot be on the same page also lessens.

While birdnesting cannot fully guarantee that your child will not experience difficult days, it can be a place to start. Consider it as a short-term solution as you figure out a more permanent arrangement.

Birdnesting can also result in future strains

As in every approach, birdnesting may also have its downsides. Maintaining another residence on top of the shared family home can be an additional financial burden. Also, it may affect everyone’s healing process to live, to some extent, as if nothing has changed. As a result, it can only confuse your child’s emotions. When things become overwhelming, you can always form a support system with your family, friends and legal team to guide you in making sound decisions for your child’s future.

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