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Is there a 'best' parenting plan for me?

The shuttling of children back and forth between parents after a divorce used to go by the label, visitation. These days, the term commonly used in Minnesota is parenting time. How that gets scheduled is something that differs depending on the circumstances of a given case. The key factor that the courts use in deciding whether to approve a schedule or order changes depends on what is deemed the best interest of the children.

It's not simply a matter of deciding how much time one parent or the other feels he or she can dedicate to the parenting role. The courts typically want to be sure that whatever parenting plan is put in place serves to meet the children's needs. If it can be devised in such a way that it changes right along with the particular developmental stages of the children, that might be considered best.

But anyone who has raised a child is sure to agree that there are a lot of different stages. And if you have children at different stages, where does that leave you? For some it might be a bird's nest.

Bird's nest custody is a model of shared custody that is relatively new. What makes it different from other arrangements is that it is the parents who do the back and forth shuttling, rather than the children. The children stay in a single home. Mom comes in for one stretch of time and when dad is slated to arrive, mom heads out.

The attractiveness of such a system may be obvious. The children get a much more stable home life. Communication and participation in day-to-day activities might be easier, too.

On the down side, there is the need for three homes instead of two; one each for the parents and the one for the children. That can get expensive and so likely makes bird nesting difficult for many families. The arrangement could also make new love relationships for the parents difficult to manage.

What's clear is that developing a workable plan takes a lot of work. A lot of variables have to be taken into account and they can change depending on the model used and the needs of the children as they grow. That's why working with a skilled attorney is so important.

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