Linden Lawyer Helping Create Healthy Child Custody Arrangements
Linden Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer proving counsel to couples in Summit, Linden, and the greater Union County area
Divorce rates are steady in the US – the Centers for Disease Control reports that 2.6 of every thousand people in New Jersey are divorced. Despite their prevalence, divorce and child custody proceedings are in no way easy. They are difficult for separating partners who want to ensure they receive a fair share of the marital assets and time with their children. However, often more adversely affected still are the children of the divorcing couple. Often without being aware of it, parents project their emotional and mental distress onto the shoulders of their children. They even put children in the middle of the battle by subtly or directly demanding that their children choose their side over that of their ex.
Even in a conscious decoupling in which both partners mindfully remain neutral with their children – seeking appropriate support for their own mental, emotional, physical, and financial stress – children still feel the destabilizing effects of separation by being shuffled from one home to another.
Multiple studies show that children who spend at least 35 percent of their time with both divorced parents fare better psychologically, emotionally, socially, and academically. Children of these joint-custody arrangements are shown to be less likely to engage in drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and are also less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, according to studies shared at the 2018 International Conference on Shared Parenting. One way many parents have decided to share custody is to utilize co-parenting, a strategy in which ex-spouses continue to share duties and decision-making regarding their children.
While co-parenting reduces much of the stress related to shared custody in less amicable relationships between divorcing couples, children still face a great deal of stress due to the physical and emotional upheaval of fitting themselves into two separate lives.
What is Nesting?
One way in which divorcing parents are addressing this to-and-fro is by utilizing nesting, a custody arrangement in which involved children stay in one place, and instead the parents move back and forth from the family home to their own separate home base. Nesting focuses on the developmentally essential needs of children to feel safe and grounded. Traditional shared custody arrangements have forced children to uproot themselves and fit into two lives, which adversely affects the development of a healthy sense of self.
Nesting is particularly beneficial because it offers the involved children physical and emotional stability. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety and security are the essential foundations necessary for a person to eventually self-actualize. This comes from providing, without question, shelter, and food. Introducing a destabilizing move across shelters disrupts a child’s innate sense of security and can cause long-term fear of abandonment. The provision of physical stability, then, also supports emotional stability, as having a home base allows a child to develop a personal refuge, to which they can escape even in the midst of any projected instability of the parent.
Ready to consider nesting? Parents who have tried it note the amount of communication and organization it takes to make nesting work. Not only are schedules arranged, but issues that arise are often handled together, as opposed to separately. Co-parenting in general, and nesting, in particular, requires a great deal of maturity, presence, and patience and is suggested only if the relationship between couples is amicable amidst divorce proceedings.
Make a nesting plan:
First, talk to your lawyer to ensure that a nesting plan is included in your child custody agreement. The plan will include an itemized list of responsibilities, from who pays for groceries and other bills to who cleans the house and when. Create a schedule for the month, and make it as detailed as possible; you’ll include this in the agreement as well.
Come up with some basic ground rules for nesting. Will there be shared time with both parents? Will there be strictly one parent nesting at a time? Will nightly phone calls to the other parent be scheduled in? Will new partners be invited to take part in the nesting? Make sure each party agrees to all ground rules.
Consider the longevity of the nesting plan. Will the plan be short term until the child acclimates to having parents living separately? Will it be a long-term plan through high school?
Finally, consider the property. Determine from the beginning how the property will be handled upon termination of the nesting plan. Will the property be sold and earnings split, or will one party be buying the other out?
Contact a Linden Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer Today
Attorney Edward Cooper, and our team of attorneys have extensive experience helping parents Elizabeth, Westfield, Summit, Linden, and the greater Union County area in all family law matters, including drafting comprehensive child custody agreements that support the co-parenting approach.
Our unique approach focuses on finding solutions that ensure the stability of the families involved, particularly the children, who are most impressionable in the destabilizing process of a divorce.
To speak with our firm today in a comprehensive and confidential case assessment regarding your divorce or your child custody agreement, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.