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“Birdnesting” in Florida Divorce: Weighing Pros and Cons


Going through a Florida divorce is especially tough for parents, who often struggle to find an ideal custody and visitation arrangement that supports the child’s needs – along with their own personal and professional lives. Fortunately, the laws are in your favor in many ways. It the public policy of the state that children have relationships with both parents except in unique situations.  Florida law and procedure also encourages parents to attempt to negotiate a timesharing schedule subject to approval by the Court.  Courts require mediation between the parties to see if it is possible to reach an agreement.  It is important to recognize that your situation may not be like another persons.  While you and the other parent can agree on non-traditional timesharing schedule, a judge is less likely to order a unique schedule when the parties can not agree and wish to litigate. Reaching an agreement, and being able to justify to the Court why this calendar is appropriate for your family can alleviate many issues.

One custody option gaining in popularity is “birdnesting,” where children remain in the family home while parents take turns at the residence. There are numerous advantages, but this arrangement is certainly not for everyone. Your Dade City child custody lawyer can explain in more detail, while an overview of the pros and cons may also be useful.

Pro: Less Disruptive for Children 

A big issue for children in divorce is uncertainty and helplessness, as they do not know what life will be like in the separate households of their parents. The divorce may have come as shock, so the transition to a new reality can be traumatic. Birdnesting means children will be staying put, providing them with some comfort as they remain in familiar surroundings. 

Con: Not Practical for the Long Term 

Beyond easing the initial transition, using the family home as a sort of satellite residence may not be workable. Seeing their parents come and go can be anxiety-inducing for children; plus, parents might re-enter the dating world, so privacy can be a concern. Some experts recommend imposing a three-month limit for birdnesting. From a financial point of view, you will probably want the arrangement to be temporary as well. The costs for each co-parent to keep a separate residence – while also paying the mortgage and upkeep for the family home – can be expensive. 

Pro: Practicality and Convenience 

There can be no doubt that birdnesting eliminates the hassle of shuttling children between two households, on top of school and activities. Many parents prefer to move themselves instead of the children, their clothing, supplies, electronics, and other essentials. From a socialization standpoint, it may also be an advantage that kids will stay in the same school and neighborhood with their friends.

Con: Potential for Confusion 

Especially with younger children, birdnesting can lead to the assumption that their parents are “together” because they share a residence at least some of the time. In addition, children often have an emotional connection to the family home and the memories it holds. The fact that they are not sharing them together as an intact family can be confusing.

A Florida Child Custody Attorney Can Help You Weigh Options 

If you believe birdnesting might be a workable solution for your divorce case, please contact The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane. You can schedule a consultation by calling 352-567-0055 or completing an online form. Our team can provide additional information and assist with the legal process, but we are also prepared to explore other alternatives for child custody and visitation.



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