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Parents seek new ways to share custody

Parents in Ohio planning to divorce may be looking for ways to minimize the effects on their children. An increasing number of families - and family courts - look at joint or shared custody as a preferred solution. With joint custody, parents have approximately equal time with and responsibilities for their children. In most cases, the children move back and forth between the parents' homes on a weekly or other regular basis. Even joint custody can come with major changes, of course. Children often leave the previous family home and their parents are no longer together.

Some families are looking at "birdnesting" as an innovative form of child custody to ease the sometimes difficult transition after a divorce. With birdnesting, children stay in the family home while the parents move in and out on a weekly basis for their custody time. In general, the parents usually share one apartment, rotating time between that space and the family home with the children. Because this arrangement requires a high level of communication and shared space, it is best suited for couples who are ending their marriages amicably. Still, it can help to ease the children's emotional trauma and provide a sense of stability.

Many experts advise that birdnesting is best considered for a short period of time: three to six months at the most. Parents cannot date or develop new relationships while sharing space with their former spouses, even in their time away from custody. And if divorcing parents are prone to arguing, that may be accentuated by the close quarters involved.

When people think about divorce, they may be unaware of the different options available for child custody. A family law attorney might be able to work with a divorcing parent to protect the parent-child relationship and develop a parenting plan that can move toward a positive co-parenting framework.

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