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What if you both retain ownership of your house after divorce?

The exact reasons why you are getting divorced are not as pertinent as what you will do from this point forward when it comes to helping your children adapt to major life changes. Children are definitely not immune to the roller coaster of emotions that many adults (perhaps including you) face when navigating the divorce process. California courts typically believe that, if possible, kids should continue to have as much time with both parents as they can. The crucial question is this: Where should that take place?

It’s no secret that many families experience high levels of stress after divorce when trying to juggle new schedules, especially where child custody and visitation are concerned. If you constantly have to shuttle your children back and forth from house to house, making sure they have all their school supplies, sports equipment, favorite stuffed animals, etc., you may wind up feeling like you shifted from one set of problems to another. A new parenting style may be the solution to your problems, or not.

Some parents love bird-nesting, others hate it

If someone were to tell you there’s a way to resolve your custody issues and divide your marital assets without having to sell your home, would you jump at the chance? The following list provides facts regarding a process known as bird-nesting, where children of divorced parents continue to reside in the home they lived in when their parents were married:

  • The general idea is that you and your former spouse would take turns living in the house you shared during marriage so that one parent is living with your children at all times.
  • You would need to secure other living arrangements, of course, for the days you are not scheduled to live with your children.
  • Some parents choose to actually continue to live in the house together (to save money on additional costs that other residences would present to each) but simply separate living quarters within the home, such as one parent on the top floor, one on the bottom, or one parent in this bedroom, the other in that.
  • It’s a process easily customized to personal needs and goals. For instance, some parents decide to continue to meet in the mutually owned home for several family mealtimes every week to help kids gain a sense of continued stability and connection with both parents, as a family.
  • You can lay ground rules (preferably in writing, signed with appropriate witnesses and court approval) for what may or may not happen when each of you is living with your children. For instance, one parent may not enter the private area of the other or must complete certain chores before the other parent arrives, etc.

You might find this type of arrangement helps you to help your children overcome any negative feelings they may experience because of your marital split. On the other hand, if amicable communication and cooperation has never been a strong point between you and your former spouse, you may wind up fighting about the same things you fought about when you were married except after divorce it could be worse because there might be legal implications.

It’s obviously not a decision to take lightly. That’s why many California parents sit down with experienced family law attorneys to review their proposed bird-nesting plans before making final decisions. Such representation can always be on hand to help with legal issues that develop after the process is already set in action as well.

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Joseph R. Zoucha, Attorney & Counselor at Law
520 Warren Street
Redwood City, CA 94063

Phone: 650-381-9591
Fax: 650-261-9650
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