Taking its name from the behavior of birds, “bird’s nest” parenting is a different approach to providing a stable environment for children after the parents divorce or separate. Instead of the children being shuffled from house to house, the children stay in one place and the parents move in and out of the home during their parenting time. This concept can be traced to a 2000 court decision in Virginia, but is gaining traction in other states as well as in the United Kingdom and Canada.
Coming to an Agreement
Illinois law requires that all decisions about parenting time and the allocation of parental responsibilities be made in the best interest of the child. Judges are open to a variety of different plans when the parents work together resolve their differences themselves. The bird’s nest parenting arrangement is not the standard in Illinois, but, there is nothing in the law that prohibits or discourages it either.
If a couple decides on their own, or with the help of a mediator, that keeping the children in one place and having the parents move in and out, is the best plan for the children, a judge will still have to approve the plan. Creating a stable environment for the child and considering the parent’s wishes are two of the key factors in evaluating what is in the best interest of the child. In most circumstances, a judge would likely be inclined to approve a bird’s nest parenting plan.
What the Court Will Impose
While the bird’s nest parenting concept is gaining in popularity, it is still far from mainstream. If a couple cannot agree, an Illinois court is not likely to impose this arrangement on a couple. Because it takes a lot of cooperation and coordination to have the children stay in one place and have the parents move in and out, a judge would be reluctant to order a couple that cannot get along to share a house.
Few, if any, Illinois courts would find that it is in the child’s best interest to enter into a bird’s nest arrangement when the parents do not get along and cannot agree to a parenting plan themselves. While each case is unique, when both parents are fit parents, but not able to agree on a parenting plan, a judge will usually order a custody study and follow the recommendations made by the custody evaluator.
Get the Help You Need
If you have questions or concerns about allocation of parental responsibilities or parenting time, including the possibility of a bird’s nest arrangement, contact an experienced Orland Park family law attorney. Call Kezy & Associates today at 708-518-8200 to schedule your free initial consultation.