Overview of Bird's Nest Custody in NJ

When it comes to custody and parenting time, some jurisdictions have started using ‘bird’s nest custody.’ Most divorcing couples are not aware of this type of schedule for custody and associated parenting time. Nevertheless, bird's nest custody visitation can be an attractive option for parents in some cases. If you have questions concerning child custody laws in NJ, you should speak to an experienced child custody attorney.

Essentials of Bird's Nest Custody

Bird's nest custody differs from other custodial arrangements because the minor child remains in the same residence and the parents flow in and out according to the terms of a divorce decree or custody agreement. Typically, the custody parent occupies the premises a majority of the time with the minor child.

The noncustodial parent takes occupancy of the residence when it comes that individual's time to enjoy parenting time or visitation with the child. The custodial parent typically vacates the premises at that juncture. In some cases, when the parents are on decent terms and able to communicate appropriately, the custodial parent moves into the noncustodial parent's residence while the latter enjoys parenting time in the "bird's nest" with the child.

Parenting Time Defined

As an aside, it is important to understand that the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States have adopted the concept of parenting time in regard to minor children and the noncustodial parent. The parenting-time concept is a departure from traditional visitation and is based on the premise that a noncustodial parent and child should not be visitors in the each other's lives.

Best Interests of the Child

The standard by which all courts will determine the type of custody schedule is a question of what is in the best interests of the child. For bird’s nest custody, a key reason some jurisdictions are finding this custody arrangement attractive is because it appears to provide stability and consistency for a minor child, even though the parents are swapping places. Through bird's nest visitation, a minor child does not trek from house to house in order to spend quality time with both parents. The child is always in a set residence. This helps the child adjust to new school schedules. They do not have to worry about packing a bag, or leaving crucial items behind when they attend their extracurricular activities.

Easier for the Parents

Bird’s nest custody can also make it easier for the parents to communicate. They can leave notes on a shared communication board, and review the same calendar. They also can touch base as they swap locations, preparing for the upcoming week and any problems the child might be having.

Some Disadvantages to Bird’s Nest Custody

Of course, the burden is now on the parents to relocate and readjust as their periods of visitation with the child fluctuates. They may have to support three different households, which can be expensive. Mom and dad might each have their own home, while they are still running a house ‘for the child.’ It can also be difficult for parents to move on and form new relationships, since they will effectively be spending half their time in someone else’s home. And finally, this option is probably not appropriate for parents who do not get along and have difficulty co-parenting while living in different homes.

Many courts across the U.S. are becoming more flexible when it comes to creative custody and parenting time plans. Unique schemes can win approval from a judge, provided the parents demonstrate that the proposed plan serves the best interests of a minor child. In the end, a judge typically seriously considers the proposals of parents who appear to be working jointly and in a positive manner to develop a beneficial custody and parenting-time plan for a child.

Peter Van Aulen has been certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a matrimonial attorney. Peter Van Aulen is also a member of the Bergen County Early Settlement Panel. He offers a free initial consultation. If you have any questions concerning child custody laws in NJ call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen today at 201-845-7400.

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