Would sharing a house be a good custody and parenting decision?

Many Washington couples will be getting divorced in 2019. While the overall national rate of divorce has declined, some age groups, in particular those age 54 and above, have doubled the rate at which they have been filing for divorce in the past 20 years. Some parents are concerned about how their decisions to end their marriage will affect their kids and wonder what types of custody and parenting options would work best to help their children cope with their situations.

A lot of people have been trying bird-nesting arrangements in divorce. This is a specialized custody plan where children continue to live in the marital home while parents take turns living with them. A main benefit of bird-nesting is that it allows children to maintain a sense of normalcy and routine in their daily lives while other aspects of life are in upheaval.

It may also be a way to avoid having to sell a house. Whether to keep a house or sell it is often a central focus of property division disputes in family court. If spouses agree to a bird-nesting arrangement, it prevents potential disagreements regarding who gets the house, at least for the time being. Parents will, of course, have to negotiate the terms of the agreement, such as who will pay the mortgage, and expenses associated with upkeep.

A downside of nesting is that it can be stressful for a parent to try to secure other living quarters for the time he or she is not scheduled to stay with the children. Bird-nesting can also be emotionally challenging because ex-spouses will be connected in a much more personal way than if they were living in separate homes all the time. Personal belongings will likely be in plain view, which can make memories of married life strongly present. Washington spouses who get along well and are looking for a custody and parenting plan that disrupts their children’s lives as little as possible may want to give bird-nesting a try.