A Creative Custody Arrangement During Divorce
I’ve been working with a client who is unwinding a 20 year marriage after discovering his wife’s infidelity. They have two children, both of whom have Asperger’s and are resistant to change. Currently, my client and his wife are both residing in the marital residence, but tensions are such that this arrangement is unsustainable.
Both are good parents who wish to meaningfully parent their children after the divorce. Eventually, each will obtain his or her own residence, but at this time, cash flow is a huge concern. Remember, in every divorce, you’re making two homes out of one, and this can really stretch family income.
I suggested they try a nesting arrangement, leaving the children in the home and alternating weeks of parenting time. Obviously, in “off” weeks, each spouse is going to have to find a place to stay, possible with other family or friends. Think of it as the baby birds staying in the nest and the parents coming and going from the nest.
The advantage to this arrangement is that the adults (mom and dad) alter their living situation to accommodate the children rather than the children shuttling between home and new and unfamiliar environment. During a divorce, it is important for children to maintain their connection with friends, school and other things familiar and comforting to them.
As you can imagine, this custody arrangement has its limitations and probably isn’t built to last. At some point, you’ll want to establish a comfortable home for yourself and stop camping-out in the weeks you are out of the house. In my years of divorce practice, I’ve never seen parents alternate weeks at home for more than an six months or so.
Nevertheless, nesting can be a helpful transition into a permanent co-parenting plan after divorce.