The end of a marriage can signify a new start for a former couple. However, divorce can be difficult for any children who are involved, since they then often have to split time between both parents. A new alternative to having children split time between two houses after a divorce is called “bird nesting.” This refers to an arrangement in which the divorcing parents themselves divide their time in a home, instead of the children being uprooted from the home for parenting time. The parents may each rent their own apartment or condo, or they may share a dwelling where one parent will stay even when it is not their parenting time. This type of parenting solution is not for everyone, but if parents do wish to use this option, their parenting plan document can spell out the allocation of parental responsibilities, parenting time arrangements, and more.
Pros and Cons of “Bird Nesting”
After a divorce, if either parent has to buy a new house, that is a considerable expense. Renting a small apartment or condo that both parents can share can save a lot of money. Utilities will be less, and there are no property taxes to pay. In addition, there can be emotional benefits to the concept of “bird nesting,” since the children will not have to shuttle back and forth between two homes. Sometimes, this type of situation can even help the parents transition easier after the divorce.
However, there can also be challenges to this type of parenting arrangement. When a couple sells the marital home and go their separate ways, this can provide a clean break once property and assets are divided. On the other hand, if the parents still co-own and live in the marital home post-divorce, the lines in their relationship are often blurred. Basic issues like who pays the utility bills can turn into disputes. If a major home repair or new appliance is needed, the parents do not have a joint account anymore from which to take the money, and therefore, they will each need to contribute to funding the repairs.
There can also be tax consequences regarding the marital home; for example, which parent will be able to deduct the mortgage interest and real estate taxes when they file their tax returns for the year? In addition, the issue of privacy comes into play when each parent starts dating. A new boyfriend or girlfriend of one of the parents might not like the idea of his or her new love interest sharing a living space with an ex-spouse. One other thing to note is that the court will not order a “bird nesting” arrangement without the agreement of both parents. Also, “bird nesting” typically only lasts until the children are 18 years old and leave home to go to college.
Factors to Consider Before “Bird Nesting”
The reasons divorced parents may choose “bird nesting” as an alternative to the traditional co-parenting or visitation schedules can vary depending on the circumstances. It could be chosen due to limited finances, or a wish to keep the marital home for the children’s sake. In many cases, parents believe keeping the family home is in the children’s best interests, because it provides a sense of stability during a time of major transition.
If you are considering a “bird’s nest” scenario, you should thoroughly discuss the following topics with your ex before making a decision:
- Can you and your ex-spouse manage and afford two residences?;
- Who will hold the residence’s mortgage, title, or lease?;
- When will the marital house be sold?;
- When the marital house is sold, how will the equity be split?;
- What will happen if one parent cannot pay the mortgage or rent?;
- Who is responsible for the monthly bills at each residence?; and,
- Who will make decisions about minor and major repairs?
When thinking about your children’s needs when deciding on parenting arrangements, the ultimate goal is to minimize conflict. A parenting plan is still needed for a “bird nesting” arrangement, and it will help you determine who will be in the house on which days of the week, as well as on weekends and holidays. It can also specify the rules both parents will follow and how expenses will be divided.
Contact a Hillside, IL Allocation of Parental Responsibilities Lawyer
Since “bird nesting” is a new trend in co-parenting, it is important to first take all relevant factors into consideration when determining whether this type of arrangement will work for you. The Law Office of Vincent C. Machroli, P.C. is well-versed in addressing the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time schedules. Our compassionate Oak Park divorce attorney understands the delicate nature of child-related issues, and we can help you create a parenting plan that benefits everyone. Call our office today at 708-449-7400 to schedule a free consultation.