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This parenting plan isn't for the birds, but it comes from them

In one of our previous posts, we attempted to dig into the different models of child custody that are available to Texas parents. In the earlier post, we talked about joint custody and sole custody, noting that in our state we use the term conservatorship, rather than custody.

This post looks at another model of custody called bird's nest parenting. It is rooted in the notion of joint managing conservatorship in which both parents share the rights and obligations that go along with their roles. What is particularly different about this plan is that it puts the children at the center of everything in a way that is unique.

Readers of this blog will already appreciate that the overriding goal in any child custody arrangement is to ensure that the best interests of the children are being met. In a common structure this might well involve the children shuttling back and forth between the homes of the two parents on something of an equal share basis.

Under a bird's nest parenting model, the notion of best interest is highlighted to such a level that it's the parents who do all the shuttling. The children stay in the family home.

Experienced family law attorneys will likely appreciate almost immediately the potential value in this kind of arrangement. Experts agree that the less disruption children experience as a result of divorce the better. With bird nesting, there is a lot less disruption.

But the experts also note that it doesn't work for every couple. Both parents have to be committed to this co-parenting arrangement. That includes committing to productive communication, not arguing and both sides adhering to a clearly laid out set of ground rules.

It can also be expensive because it's very possible that the parents will have to maintain three residences instead of two. And if a new partner enters the picture for either of the parents, it can create big headaches over privacy.

Is a bird's nesting arrangement right for you? Consult an attorney to see what it might take. Then, if you proceed, be sure that others with an interest in the arrangement -- the courts, schools and social welfare agencies -- are willing and able to fully support the effort.

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