Whether you are an unmarried parent or divorcing your child’s other parent, you can expect to have a child custody plan in place. For many parents, this plan reflects joint legal and physical custody rights, unless such an arrangement is not in a child’s best interest.
Because every family and every case is different, sharing custody can take many forms. For instance, if you and the other parent have equal or roughly-equal parenting time, you have numerous options for what that living situation might look like.
Traditional equal sharing custody arrangements
Most people will have a traditional custody arrangement, where the children go back and forth between each parent’s home. Exchanges might happen every week, every weekend or every few days.
This arrangement can be a difficult adjustment for children, but it is often the most cost-effective and simplest for parents. It also preserves each parent’s individual relationship with a child while minimizing contact between parents.
Traditional equal sharing custody arrangements may not work for everyone for reasons related to geography, parental wishes or financial circumstances. In these cases, parents might consider an alternative custody arrangement.
Nesting is one such option. As discussed in this Washington Post article, nesting refers to an arrangement involving the children’s home (or the nest) and each parent’s respective home. Parents move in the nest during their parenting time and return to their individual home when it is the other parent’s time with the children.
While this arrangement is not for everyone, it can work for very amicable co-parents with the financial means to support three households.
Other alternatives include getting different apartments in the same building or even living together in the same house as roommates.
Finding the right solution for you and your children
No matter what your custody arrangement ultimately looks like, it should reflect what is in your child’s best interests. Ideally, custody agreements and living situations should allow a child to feel safe, supported and stable, and it is up to the parents (or the courts) to identify the solution that best achieves this.