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Alternative Custody Arrangements – “Bird Nesting” Custody

Publish Date: 08/25/2016

In Georgia, there are two types of child custody - legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody deals with decision making, while physical custody deals with which parent will be with the children at any given time. While there are no real "rules" about physical custody, most families find that it works best for one parent to have primary physical custody while the other has visitation on weekends and possibly one night during the week, with the parents equally splitting holidays. However, this does not work for every family, so some parents get creative to find an alternative custody arrangement that works best for them.

One alternative custody arrangement has been called "bird nesting" custody. In this arrangement, the children remain in the same house, while the parents move in and out for custody and visitation time. Actress Anne Dudek is requesting this type of custody arrangement in her divorce case. 'Mad Men' & 'Big Love' Star Anne Dudek: I'm Getting Divorced with New Age Child Custody Plan, by TMZ Staff, March 12, 2016, Dudek and her husband of 8 years have two children, ages 7 and 4. In her divorce documents, Dudek has requested that the parties share legal and physical custody and specifically asks that the children stay in one house, while she and her soon to be ex move in and out every three days.

Certainly, this option may be easier on the kids who will not have to pack up and go to a different house to see the other parent, but it will present additional complications for the parents. For example, where will each parent live when they are not in the home with the children? Will they share an additional residence, or will they each have a separate additional residence? If they have separate, additional residences, this will be an increased cost for each of them. Thus, any families considering this option will likely have to have sufficient assets to make it happen. In addition, in a "bird nesting" custody arrangement, the parents will have to pack up and move every few days, which they could tire of quickly causing them to resent the time they have to live in another house with the children.

It should be noted that, although this form of custody is legal in Georgia, there are some Judges who do not agree with it and may refuse to sign a final divorce decree with this custody option as part of the parenting plan. This is where an experienced family attorney can really help. A family law attorney who has been practicing for many years in the same counties will know the tendencies of the different Judges. He/She can most effectively present an alternative custody option, such as the one discussed in this blog, so that it has the best chance of being approved by the particular Judge to which your case has been assigned.


Child Custody
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