It is common knowledge that divorce is hard on children. Every child will likely struggle to adjust to their new physical, social and emotional reality when their parents split up. Children with special needs may find this process particularly challenging.
Routine and structure are crucial to the daily successes of a child with special needs. Changing their family structure, living environment and weekly schedule can be far too much disruption for your child to handle and can even be difficult on children that have no special needs. Protecting your child from some of the consequences of divorce may require you to get creative. A nesting arrangement could be a viable solution for your family, at least during the initial stages of the divorce.
Nesting focuses on the needs of your children
Nesting gets its name from the behavior of birds caring for their young. The nest where the baby birds live is usually too small to accommodate both parents at once. The parents take turns moving in and out of the nest to care for their babies.
A nesting arrangement with divorcing parents is similar. The parents rotate in and out of the family home. That means the parents will maintain a house or apartment where one parent stays while the other parent with the right to possession of the children stays with the children in the family home. The parents switch places when the other parent’s possession time begins. This arrangement allows the children to stay in the familiar surroundings of “their house”, continue to attend “their school” and be close to “their friends”.
The nesting arrangement reduces the disruption of the divorce for the child and that is very important for special needs children. Further, moving back and forth provides the parents a close-up look at the disruption a child experiences when the child lives in two different homes.
Special considerations for parents attempting birdnesting
A nesting custody arrangement usually requires that your family has enough resources to maintain the marital home and at least one alternative living space for the rotation location. A close analysis of the family finances is necessary to determine whether a nesting arrangement is feasible.
You will also need to consider the practical implications of such an arrangement. Privacy may become an issue if the parents are rotating in and out of the same alternative living quarters. In addition, you and your spouse need to communicate well in order to maintain acceptable personal boundaries and handle the daily routines and schedules for the children.
Nesting arrangements are not common, but they can save the children considerable stress during the initial separation and divorce process while providing the parent’s a “bird’s eye view” of what a child’s life might be like when his or her parents are divorced.