No two children react to divorce in exactly the same way. Each of your children might have handled news of your impending marital break-up in his or her own way. One might have been a bit more vocal about feelings than another was. Hopefully, by letting them know it's not their fault, that you love them and will be there to support them as they adapt to a new lifestyle, you gave them tools for coping as well as possible.
If one of your main concerns has to do with where your children will live and the possible stress involved in shuttling them back and forth between two homes, you may be interested in learning more about a post-divorce parenting trend that is becoming more commonplace in Florida and beyond. It's called bird nesting. In short, you can protect your parenting rights and simplify your children's lives as they come to terms with having only one parent at a time under their roof.
The gist of bird nesting
Perhaps you've seen the TV show, "Splitting Up Together," which chronicles the lives of a divorced couple and their children as they navigate a bird nesting arrangement. This system basically works by parents alternating turns living with their kids in the same home they shared as a family during the marriage. The following list shares some of the pros and cons you might experience if you try it:
- You don't have to sell your house.
- If you have a detached garage or other outbuilding that you can convert to a small apartment, you may not have to buy or rent additional living quarters when it's not your turn to stay with your kids.
- Your children can continue to live in familiar surroundings and keep most of their usual routines.
- There is less chance of losing homework, sports equipment and other personal belongings since your kids won't be shuttling back and forth between homes.
- You may experience unexpected emotions by frequently encountering your ex-spouse or seeing personal belongings, such as clothing hanging in your closet, toiletries and other personal items in a cabinet or on a sink.
- Some children gain a false sense of hope that their parents will reunite when they implement bird-nesting plans.
- Sharing a house with a former spouse may not sit well with a new romantic partner.
You can customize a bird-nesting plan to fit your family's needs and post-divorce goals. It's always best to get everything in writing, even minor details (which can become major problems if left unresolved) such as who will be responsible for making mortgage payments if that applies, who will do chores, who will conduct lawn maintenance and household repairs, etc.
Support is available
By talking to other Florida parents who are currently using or have used a bird-nesting plan, you can get a better feel for how it works and whether or not it is a viable option in your situation. If you try it and run into problems down the line, especially concerning legal issues, you can reach out for experienced support to help get things back on track.